In January this year I wrote a blog suggesting a new idea. Simple in its approach whereby I suggested that every community should be allowed to grow by 5%. The idea was that this would spread the pressures of building UK housing stock, avoid the big new estates and at the same time improve the quality of developments.
This week in a nearby village a small housing scheme for 16 dwellings was approved contrary to the planning officers recommendation for refusal. The reasons for refusal were that the development was outside the settlement boundary, in an area of "Particularly Attractive Countryside", an intrusion into the countryside and an unsustainable location with the usual reference to lack of public transport. Interestingly the applicant didn't offer any affordable housing but did offer an alternative which I thought was quite forward thinking. They offered a financial contribution of £300,000 towards the upkeep of one of the struggling pubs in the village. To ascertain the residents opinion they conducted a local poll who were opposed to this idea. The applicant on the back of this offered to pay the Parish Council the £300,000 to use as they wish to improve community facilities.
I went to look at the site today and on the whole I thought it was an acceptable location and certainly didn't think that the site was any more attractive than any other adjoining land in the vicinity. The old chestnut, an unsustainable location and lack of public transport, I simply don't buy into this. Whilst Government Policy the policy makers have to accept that the majority of the population move around by car. I am not saying that it right or wrong but whatever they try and do policy is unlikely to change this. Yet as a result planning authorities really restrict car parking on developments and the result of that is chaos. Go to any modern development where densities are high and car spaces limited and you have streets clogged up with cars parked everywhere.
So in conclusion this village will have 16 new dwellings and in terms of overall impact it will probably go unnoticed. The planning authority haven't got the affordable housing they would usually require and the Parish have turned down the opportunity to save the local pub. Assuming that a small local builder develops the site it is also likely that there will be 16 attractive dwellings and a real bonus would be if they were built to a good environmental standard. Well done to the Councillors who voted this through.