Released on 24 February 2017
At last night’s Council meeting, Leader of the Council, Councillor Martin Fisher, outlined his vision for a strategic approach to development, as part of the creation of the Local Plan.
The proposal for a new settlement of around 4000 houses, developed around garden village principals, will be pursued as part of the Local Plan. The aim is to provide a mix of affordable and starter homes and would include new schools, a doctor’s surgery, supermarket and investment in roads. The aim will be to have a Local Plan that is infrastructure led and which seeks to relieve the pressure on existing facilities.
The district is currently 94% Green Belt and development has been concentrated within the remaining 6%. These areas are now at risk of unsustainable levels of infilling. The creation of a garden village would require the release of around 1% of Green Belt and is considered to be an appropriate and proportionate approach to the government’s requirement to significantly boost the supply of housing. Releasing this small amount in one particular area would make it easier to protect the rest and prevent a scattergun approach to the release of Green Belt.
Without looking at the Green Belt, the Council will only be able to deliver just over a third of the housing needed. This approach would not boost the supply of housing as required by the government and would not pass the independent examination of the Local Plan, which could mean the Council losing the ability to control and plan for development in the district, putting more Green Belt at risk.
The strategic vision will be considered by the Planning Policy Committee next month and if agreed, will form the basis of further work on the Local Plan.
A new settlement was one of the options put forward during the Local Plan: Issues and Approaches Regulation 18 consultation, which took place from 18 December 2015 to 26 February 2016 and then the Site Consultation, which took place between 4 November 2016 and 30 December 2016.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Martin Fisher said: “The vision I have outlined, if agreed by the Planning Policy Committee, will aim to meet the requirements of the district over the next 20 years and help the Council retain control over future development. We have to be realistic about our ability to meet future housing need. We have the largest amount of Green Belt in the entire country and will fight to maintain this position.
“By releasing a small amount we will have a better chance of deciding where development can go and protect the Green Belt into the future. As a passionate defender of the Green Belt I would find its wholesale and uncontrolled loss unacceptable, this approach has to be the best way forward.
“House prices in this area are 14 times the average earnings; that is unsustainable. Without a different approach any young people will have to find homes elsewhere, while the population will become increasingly elderly, which will have a knock on effect on the economy and on public services. We have to ensure this district continues to be a vibrant place to live, work and visit.”