11 August 2016
Still time to let the council planners know what you think!
The Council has been asking what we think about the future of places like Gypsies Green and the river front, and the green belt around the borough. We believe it is unacceptable that a Labour council is intending to shape its Local Plan on the premise that we have to have low-density, high-cost, private housing and yet more business parks, built at the expense of our open spaces, and primarily for the financial gain of development corporations. Even though the official deadline has passed, the council’s planners have said they will still accept the views of the public on the latest stage of their new Local Plan. So have your say now! Planning is one of the few things councils can have some control over and this is a real opportunity for a shift towards a more sustainable future which will make our communities more resilient, secure and healthy.
The consultation is on the Strategic Land Review and has two parts. The first asks what we think about Homes, Jobs and Environment, giving three Growth Options. We have replied that we do not accept that any of these have to be sacrificed to achieve progress on any of the others. We have proposed an alternative model of development where current unused or underused land in the current urban developed area, particularly brownfield land, underused land and empty buildings, would be where more homes and jobs would be created. We need to revive our town centres by enabling more people to live there - both young people needing affordable housing and also older people needing easy access to services such as health, shops, libraries, post office, community centres and public transport.
The Local Plan must safeguard the environment, in terms of green infrastructure, such as open spaces, footpaths, and the green belt. It must also tackle current environmental problems such as air pollution, river and marine pollution, flooding and declining biodiversity. It must enable us to be more resilient communities in the face of threats such as climate change particularly by increasing food production through farming for local consumption and also allotments and community garden schemes.
The second part is a survey of 300 sites across the borough to assess whether they would be suitable for housing or employment use. We have responded to some of these where we disagree with the council planner’s initial assessments, eg green spaces considered definitely suitable or potentially suitable for housing or employment such as Gypsies Green, the riverfront and about 10% of the green belt. But we have also responded where we agree strongly with the assessment of not being suitable at all, eg the Coastal Leas, the town’s formal parks, and the rest of the green belt. This is because developers may well be submitting responses disagreeing and saying that these sites should be reconsidered because they want to build on them for maximum profit.
You can find our full submission: here
All the documents including all 300 site assessments are on the council website and you can then email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
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