Tuesday, 15 December 2015

MK councillors fail to get "eco-community" removed from Local Plan

At today’s Cornwall Council meeting on the Local Plan, I moved an amendment that the so-called “eco-community” allocation for West Carclaze and Baal be removed from the document.

The amendment was seconded by Cllr Matt Luke, who represents the Penwithick area where the “eco-community” would be built.

I was extremely disappointed that my amendment was only supported by eight councillors. These were the four MK councillors; Loveday Jenkin (Crowan & Wendron), Andrew Long (Callington), Matt Luke (Penwithick & Boscoppa) and myself (St Enoder), plus four independents; Bert Biscoe (Truro Boscawen), Des Curnow (St Stephen), Sandra Heyward (St Austell Gover) and Loic Rich (Truro Tregolls).

I still consider that the arguments made by Cllr Luke and I were compelling, but they achieved no real traction with the wider membership of Cornwall Council.

My contribution to the debate was as follows:

As one of the members for the China Clay Area, I would wish to move the amendment to remove the allocation of an eco-community at West Carclaze and Baal; and ask that officers are delegated to redistribute the 1,200 properties pro-rata across all 19 networks.

I will acknowledge that this amendment was not supported at the Planning PAC. But for a number of us in the Clay Area – as long-standing opponents of the eco-town – this is about being boringly consistent.

The “eco-community” proposal was included in the Local Plan because central government included a St Austell “eco-town” in a Planning Policy Statement. 

But that PPS was cancelled on 6th March “for all areas … except north-west Bicester.”

The inspector also queried what the Council was trying to achieve with the allocation.

This, I believe, means councillors can legitimately reconsider whether the proposed development near Penwithick is appropriate.

I believe it is not.

The level of housing development in the Clay Area has been very high. 

And if the level of housing proposed for Clay Country (including the eco-community) does go ahead, the housing stock of our area would increase by 87% between 1990 and 2030.

This is excessive. It will, for example, be three times the level of housing growth experienced in South East Cornwall and more than double compared to a number of other networks including West Penwith, Falmouth & Penryn, and Wadebridge & Padstow.

I would add that, when the China Clay Area Network met in October, it was unanimous in asking the unitary authority to withdraw its backing for the "eco-community."

Please support the amendment and ensure a fairer, more equitable distribution of the housing target.

In his contribution to the debate, Cllr Matt Luke told the meeting that there was “significant local opposition to the development of over one thousand extra houses in an area that has already had higher housing growth than any other part of Cornwall.”

In particular, he pointed out that the present application for an “eco-community” had been opposed by over 1,000 people, two local parish councils and St Austell Town Council.

But it was all to no avail, though the revised Local Plan does contain additional constraints as I outlined in my blog of 13th December.


NJS said...

Well tried. Is the problem not partly that CC has, overall, a vested and official-led, financial stake in the planning application and has, arguably, undertaken works in anticipation of its own approval being granted? This is all a consequence of the enactment of central powers to enable unitary authorities to trade like companies and to enter into partnerships which go beyond securing the public good; for eaxample in the maintenance of public lavatories, in that the council's objectives have become Thatcherite trading and budgeting goals; even when they are spectacularly mishandled as with the BT contract.

NJS said...

Maybe, St Austell Town Council needs to consider whether the decision is being rail-roaded against the expressed will of the towns-people and the Town Council itself, which is elected by them. Local opposition to such a scheme as this is not something which any reasonable unitary authority may lightly disregard and, in disregarding it, maybe, they are acting so unreasonably that no reasonable unitary authority - exercising theose functions - could reasonably reach the conclusion to which they are bulldozing? The question is whether St Austell Town Council wants to take CC on in court over it; whether it has the will and cash to take advice, as a preliminary step. Private protests will probably get nowhere - we have seen it before - with the botch-up of the redevelopment of the town centre - no infra-structure to sustain even parking or design for big stores and Trewhiddle is now to be desecrated to make good the 80 million poound foul-up there. Can even the main sewers sustain all the extra planned development? Apparently, even unusual rainfall will flood Par from the sewers - whatever pathetic excuses the government agencies put up about apparent non-enforcement against the water company. Is St Austell doomed to become the sewer of Cornwall - dumped on both with instant communities from the north of England, living in buy-to-let housing, on Cornish housing benefit, with their detritus floating boats through Par, down to the planned new 'marina' - while French, Egyptian and Swiss property developers suck what little is left from the very soil of the town and run off with it, tax-free, to off-shore havens? Revolutions have had slighter causes!