by Alan Dean on 13 July, 2017
A six weeks’ public consultation began yesterday, following Tuesday night’s council decision to approve the Draft Local Plan for publication. See a summary of the plan here.
UTTLESFORD COUNCIL MEETING 11TH JULY 2017
The following is what I said at the meeting:
Tonight, I will be supporting the recommendation to start public consultation on this draft Local Plan.
It has been a long and tortuous journey. Indeed, a saga that has not yet ended. But now is the time formally to ask the people of the district what they think of the plan to date.
I would expect some changes by the end of the year. It’s our job to listen to the feedback we receive.
This is a serious set of proposals that contains a fundamental shift in the way the council has planned for growth. I was around in the early 1990s and fought hard – and won – against the first proposal for development at Easton Park. That plan eventually focussed mainly on building upon brownfield land.
In the past twenty-plus years our planning world has changed. The housing crisis has grown worse. The need for more housing has increased at lot.
There is little brownfield land left. There is no alternative to building most new homes on greenfield sites. This means that some areas will have to change.
I see no credible alternative solution from the three garden communities put forward in this draft Local Plan.
We councillors have been assisted by our officers since the start of 2015 in gathering and refining evidence on a whole range of topics. We had a blip in the process last autumn whilst still digesting the evidence. Then the evidence changed; the housing numbers went up yet again. So, although we only received our officers’ professional recommendations in recent weeks, the evidence has been pointing towards the need for three new communities since the spring.
I was actually looking forward with some anticipation to working out how to select two from a shortlist list of three or four. As it has turned out, there are three sites that broadly meet the criteria; and we need all three to deliver what’s needed.
I have received lots of emails appealing for the council to steer away from this location or that site. That’s fine. What I would say to anyone listening tonight is: whether or not you believe that you have the killer fact, the golden bullet that will see off development at your favourite location, please also put some effort into thinking about what you want if the new community does go ahead. What do you want to conserve? What do you want to enhance? What do you want to get rid of? That way we should all end up with the best possible outcome.
I’ve not given up on improving this plan. I want to see some clear statements in it about future road widths. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about obstacle courses that I intend to keep happily buzzing away. There’s more; but the rest can wait.
So, I invite my fellow councillors to support putting this draft plan out for consultation. A lot of work has gone into it and local people deserve to have their say now.2 Comments