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SGCAG - Rebuttal to BDC2

Page updated - 20 January 2005

 

The text below, in black, appeared on the Babergh Website (18 Jan 2006) written by Paul Simon, Communications & PR Manager. 

 (01473) 826634       paul.simon@babergh.gov.uk      (Babergh District Council)

 

Responses provided by Stefan Kosciuszko, Chairman of the SAVE GAINSBOROUGH COUNTRY Action Group – 19th January 2006

 

 

The Fact Factory: Land off Carsons Drive, Great Cornard (issued 18th January)

In recent days, the Save Gainsborough Country Action Group (SGCAG) has been distributing a leaflet to local residents in advance of the public meeting on Wednesday 18th January. At this meeting, one of several organised by Babergh in addition to its statutory consultation requirements,  Babergh officers will explain the recommendation of the Local Plan Inspector to site 170 new houses, including up to 59 low-cost homes for local families, off Carsons Drive, instead of a development off Shawlands Avenue.

 

At the public meeting of 18th January , one of several organised by Babergh in addition to its statutory consultation requirements,  Babergh officers explained the recommendation of the Local Plan Inspector to site 170 new houses, including up to 59 low-cost homes for local families, off Carsons Drive, instead of a development off Shawlands Avenue. The aim of Babergh’s consultation is both to listen to the views of local people and explain the features of the Inspector’s recommendation. The purpose of this note is to address a number of inaccuracies that have crept into the debate.

 

They are not inaccuracies as is demonstrated as follows:

 

1. Claim: “Shoved into the Local Plan through the back door”

The Facts: The Carsons Drive site was submitted by a developer as early as October 2001! It has, therefore, been an option in the public domain for over 4 years and as part of the Local Plan process was preferred to the Shawlands Avenue site by the Inspector. Along with 70 other sites this was considered by the Babergh Local Plan Task Force Group and was rejected on grounds of sustainability. The “back door” refers to the fact that even though as a result of democratic process over 5 years it was not included in the Local Plan Drafts 1 & 2 however the site was lodged as a potential site only as an objection to the Special Landscape Area designation on this site. The only person in the whole process who has agreed to this inclusion in the Local Plan was the Inspector under pressure from “big money developers”.

 

A number of SGCAG representatives took an active part in the Inquiry, where their viewpoints were debated in public and were they were able to make direct representations to the Inspector on these issues. Indeed, however we could only argue for an extension of the Special Landscape Area and not against this development because it was never originally included in the Plan. The “back door” again refers

 

2. Claim: “Now the officers are trying to rush this through on an accelerated timetable”

The Facts: Babergh District Council is required to provide a 6 week period of consultation on all significant modifications arising out of the Inspector’s Report. This period begins on 18th January 2006. Far from ‘rushing’, Babergh is strictly adhering to the timetable required of it. This comment was made in view of the fact that almost immediately after the Inspector’s Report was published the Strategy Committee was asked to meet on the 30th November 2005 and prior to this meeting the Committee members were not given the time or a copy of the Inspector’s Report to read. This is not good governance.

 

I further quote from their own comments in papers given to the Strategy Committee – “In terms of process , there is a vital need to steer the Local Plan towards adoption as soon as possible. In this respect, there is effectively a deadline for adoption of 21 July 2006, when the European Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (the SEA Directive) comes into effect. This would render adoption of the emerging plan after this deadline date of 21 July 2006 extremely difficult and in all likelihood, it is believed, impossible for practical purposes” Of course this has been repeated verbally in many ways and remarks of varying pressure to Councillors.

 

Furthermore, Babergh is going beyond what is needed in terms of consultation, by organising extra public meetings, including the one at Great Cornard on 18th January. I have the highest regard for Babergh’s processes generally, and Mike Hammond who attended the public meeting last night and heard 250+ people unanimously express their opposition to this development.

 

3. Claim: “This area was protected by a Special Landscape Area (SLA) designation”

The Facts: The SLA is not yet in existence, but is included as part of this Local Plan. It was subject to two special  full votes of Babergh District Councillors for inclusion in the Local Plan in 2001 and 2003. I believe the legal term is that it is considered as interim planning policy and it has been clearly stated in other District Council papers as a factor which must be taken account of in planning decisions.

 The Carsons Drive development would result in a small wedge 10+ acres running from Sheepshead Hill to Chaplin Walk e.g. most of Great Cornard South can hardly be called a small wedge…in any event small wedges of development do not belong in SLA’s which under planning policy should follow roads, hedgerows etc of land on the western extremity of the proposed SLA being excluded. The boundary with the new development would be separated from the SLA via alternating tracks of open space and trees. This is open countryside and part of an SLA and outside of the Built Up Area Boundary(BUAB) for Great Cornard so in most definitions this would be regarded as Green Belt

 

4. Claim: “Yet another major housing development dumped in Great Cornard”

The Facts: Overall, Babergh is required to take far fewer new houses, on far fewer sites, than any of its surrounding districts. As a special district this is a sina qua non. Furthermore, Babergh is striving to allocate those sites where there is greatest housing need – ie Great Cornard, Sudbury and Hadleigh.

One could argue that the death of our villages suggests that there is need elsewhere as well. There is no ‘dumping’. Well it is interesting that the Inspector has also removed from the plan the originally stated requirement for phased development and that policy is prevalent in a number of other surrounding districts’ local plans. So dumping can take place and in excess of 700 homes with up to an additional 5000 car movements per day is strong evidence of over development in this area.  In the case of Great Cornard alone, there are an estimated 430 residents on the Common Housing Register – ie who are actively looking for somewhere affordable to live. This is an appalling statement and not something to be proud of…. 65% of this development has nothing to do with affordable housing. If officers are so concerned about this issue is this the right way to tackle it or take some proper action and through Community Housing Associations on their own land and other well established methods as expressed on Pages 20-22 of the BDC Corporate Plan

 

 

Babergh hopes that local people will be able to formulate their views about this issue on the basis of the facts. We have….. the fact is that this is an unjustified and abhorrent development which must be stopped at all costs. 250+ people at a public meeting agreed on this last night.