Tuesday, 21 October 2008

There is still time to comment on RSS

Like many others, I have just received the official government response to my epetition concerning the South West Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), the proposal to build over 68,000 houses in Cornwall over the next 20 years and MK’s assertion that Cornwall’s democratically elected representatives should be empowered to deliver a housing strategy which focuses on providing affordable homes to meet local needs.

The response was as follows:

The latest Proposed Changes from the Secretary of State were prepared by the Government Office for the South West (GOSW). Government Offices are not a quango but an integral part of central government; bringing central government closer to local partners and ensuring that policies and programmes are informed by local knowledge. Ultimate accountability for decision making at the regional level remains with Ministers.

The Regional Assembly is a partnership of elected councillors from all local authorities in the region and representatives of various sectors with a role in the region’s economic, social and environmental well-being. Each Member is accountable to their own home organisation or to the sector which they represent. Local Authority Members are elected Councillors and are therefore accountable to their own constituencies as well. The Assembly is accountable to all its Member organisations and to the Department of Communities and Local Government.

In developing the draft RSS for the South West, the Regional Assembly worked closely with the region’s local authorities to develop its proposals and undertook extensive consultation with regional partners on the draft. The detailed evidence underpinning the strategy and the results of the consultation were reviewed in detail at the Examination in Public by the Independent Panel of Inspectors.

Evidence on the housing needed to address the acute issues of housing affordability in Cornwall and to meet the needs of Cornwall’s growing population has been key to determining Cornwall’s housing allocation. This evidence was fundamental both to the development of the draft South West RSS by the Regional Assembly and to the Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the RSS.

Housing figures are not derived from one model or set of projections. They are the result of the range of evidence and debate that has been considered through the process of preparing the Strategy and latest evidence about household growth in the region including:

· household projection

· the needs of the regional economy
· evidence about the affordability of housing
· the findings of the Sustainability Appraisal, Appropriate Assessment and other information about environmental capacity
· the likely impact on transport and other infrastructure, and
· evidence about the availability of suitable land.

The comments made in this petition will be considered along with all other representations made during the consultation process, before the final Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West is finalized for publication.

What a load of nonsense.

There is still time to make your feelings known. The ‘consultation’ continues until 24th October. Views can be sent through the link found on the Government Office for the South West website, www.gos.gov.uk/gosw by email to rssconsult@gosw.gsi.gov.uk or in writing addressed to the RSS Team, GOSW, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EH.

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