Tuesday, 24 January 2012

How many new properties for Cornwall by 2030?

In this week's Cornish Guardian, my column is a "balanced" attempt to encourage people to comment on the draft Core Strategy. It is as follows:

How many properties do you think should be built in Cornwall over the next twenty years?

The unitary authority’s Core Strategy document, which is out to consultation until 2nd March, recommends that 48,000 new housing units should be constructed between 2010 and 2030.

Before Cornwall Council’s ruling Cabinet agreed on this figure, it undertook a consultation exercise in which it sought views on three possible housing targets: 38,000 (described as low), 48,000 (medium) and 57,000 (high). Individuals and groups were also invited to put forward their own alternative proposals.

Most written responses from Parish Councils and local groups supported the low to medium options. Developers meanwhile mostly argued for the high option, while a number of them proposed even higher levels of growth.

Following this initial consultation, council officers presented a report to the Planning Policy Panel at Cornwall Council, which I continue to chair. It recommended a housing target for the Core Strategy of 54,000! The Panel did not agree and proposed a lower target of 40,000 new homes, which was more in line with the early soundings taken in local communities. This was, however, over-ruled by the Council’s ten-strong Cabinet, which plumped for 48,000 new properties.

There are many groups arguing for lower levels of housing growth, including the Cornish Social and Economic Research Group.

CoSERG points out that over the last 50 years, Cornwall’s population has grown by over 200,000 people and the number of houses has doubled from 132,000 to 255,000.

Back in 1989, this organisation produced a book titled “Cornwall at the Crossroads.” It called for a breathing space so that “Cornwall and its communities could cope with this unprecedented growth, safeguard the environment and retain what makes our place special, its Cornishness.”

Over these last two decades, approximately 45,000 new properties have been completed in Cornwall – something CoSERG has described as a “juggernaut of housing and population growth.”

CoSERG strongly argues that the proposed levels of growth in the Core Strategy are unsustainable and would lead to “the loss of significant areas of countryside, the urbanisation of our towns and villages, much more traffic and congestion, and the irresponsible depletion of our natural resources.”

So what do you think? Who do you agree with – CoSERG, Cornwall Council, developers?

Please take the time to find out more about the arguments and have your say on housing, the environment, employment land, and so much more.

The Core Strategy documents can be viewed online at www.cornwall.gov.uk, where there is an online consultation system, or in libraries and one stop shops, where feedback forms are available.

You can also call 01872 224283 to request copies of the documents and feedback forms to be posted out to you.

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