Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies: a planning vacuum? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

Written evidence from Lower Broadheath Parish Council (ARSS 04)


Whilst the Parish Council did not support the Regional Spatial Strategy we share the general mode of uncertainty that now exists as a result of it's withdraw, however we hope the forthcoming Green Paper on localism, will provide some guidance on how it is to be replaced. We consider the needs of the community are more important than those of the house builder's balance sheets.

The concept of localism, in place of a "top down dictate", is to be applauded but at the same time we acknowledge that areas the size of Counties and possibly Unitary Authorities must adopt strategic long term plans for guiding their administrative districts. This long term strategy must be carried out in conjunction with District Councils, Highways Agency and Service providers to ensure that adequate and affordable infrastructure investment is put in place. Meaningful consultation with Town and Parish Councils is essential in order to achieve "grass root" support. Previous consultations at this level have been actively responded too, only for us to find our opinions have been totally ignored.

The proposals to "bribe" Councils to build as many affordable homes as possible carries the danger of outward migration from the major urban areas in the same way as new towns did in the 1960's and 70's resulting in long distance commuting unless supported by sustainable housing and employment close to current major strategic transport infrastructure.

County, Unitary, District Councils and service providers have been wholly reactive to developers planning applications in the past. This has led to planning applications for land totally unsuitable for sustained development but just happen to be sites that have willing vendors. This should be replaced by proactive planning that only promotes sites that are sustainable for both housing and employment and wholly to the benefit of local communities.

Small settlements, such as our own that are close to major cities and towns, may be capable of supporting 50 to 60 homes with small employment sites. Developments in settlements further removed may not be acceptable to the communities involved unless perhaps supported by local employment that is not dependent on the use of heavy transport and long journeys to major road networks. We do not support peripheral overflow developments on current green belt or green field sites adjacent to large cities and towns and believe that every effort should be made to use existing buildings or brown field land before creeping into adjacent districts.

The projected housing growth figures produced by the previous Labour administration were totally unrealistic. Future housing growth should be in support of local population needs and sited in areas where new employers have demonstrated an enthusiasm to set up new businesses.

I hope you will find these observations helpful in your discussions.

Clerk to Lower Broadheath Parish Council.

August 2010

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