Friday, 23 July 2010

Eco-town - Vision and Principles, Principles, Principles, ...

It is well-known that I am sceptical about the eco-town planned for the St Austell / China Clay Area. And today, I had the “pleasure” to chair the latest meeting of Cornwall Council’s Planning Policy Panel.

We were presented with a working draft of the Vision and Principles for the development. The seven key identified principles were:

Principle 1 - Symbiotic Relationship with St Austell
Mutually beneficial relationship between the Eco-town, St Austell and villages

Principle 2 - Vibrant Hearts
Concentrate most intensive uses at most accessible point.

Principle 3 - Sense of Place
Identity of the place, open spaces, wilderness and distinctive character to influence public realm and character

Principle 4 - Balanced and Empowered Community
An inclusive community for all ages

Principle 5 - Continued Innovation
Develop opportunities for innovation in the areas of ecology, economy, social, built environment and green technology

Principle 6 - Integrate Place with Natural Systems
Give meaning to the eco in eco-town by combining urban and natural fabric and raised awareness

Principle 7 - Partnership Working & Delivery
Bringing together strategic partners and organisations.

At the meeting, some of my colleagues were very supportive of the eco-town initiative but others were more critical. Obviously when faced with such “planning” speak as shown above, I has a lot to say.

But whether we like it or not, the principle of an eco-town near St Austell is contained within a Planning Policy Statement produced by the last Labour Government. The principle of the development is therefore established in “national” planning policy, unless the new Coalition revokes the relevant PPS.

I have heard no indication that this is going to happen and it is clear that the main role of the Planning Policy Panel is likely to be challenging the direction and resultant detail of the five component parts of the proposal, rather than the actual principle of the development itself.

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