CWC Council Debate: Draft Local Plan

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The Local Plan is an Important document for our Borough’s future and I would like to pay tribute to the hard work put into it by Council Officers, consultation with local people and the Local Development Framework.

It is however important to stress there is a need for new housing as well as the reality that new housing schemes are rarely popular with existing residents and neighbours.

I would however like to inform my fellow Councillors of 2 reports which underline the issue:

A report from the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), states “Growing population to increase housing shortage” as the number of households in England is set to rise by a fifth in the next 20 years. Professor Christine Whitehead, who helped produce the report, said: “The 2011 census found the population was significantly higher than expected.”

Secondly, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, of which I am a member, warned today that House Prices will rise on average by 8% and rents by 2% across the UK next year and whilst there has been a 25% increase in housing starts over the past year –“the shortage of homes coming onto the market a key factor behind the price rises”.

I feel therefore we do need more houses to ensure our young people can afford to live where they grew up, if there are not enough houses and they cannot afford to buy or rent them, they will move away and this will impact on our towns and the borough as a whole.

When deciding on a new Local Plan for the Borough as a whole it requiresdifficult decisions which will impact on our residents, however not to do so, to delay and prevaricate because of short term political concerns is not the right way, the correct way is to make the difficult long term decision which this Borough needs to ensure it can continue to prosper in the future.

Sadly due to the Housing Moratorium, the Recession and previous planning refusals both from this Council and its predecessors, we have an undersupply of housing and our communities are paying for that now, as developers have been able to get planning permission on sites that local communities opposed -simply due to the fact the need for houses overrode other considerations.

The proposed Local Plan has been properly considered and consulted at lengthand we need now to get on with it, the recent planning Appeal Decisions in Hartford have shown that without enough houses being built, our communities end up with unpopular developments so we must proceed.

I would urge all members of this Council to think carefully before they vote, are you doing so for short term headlines in the press or for the longer term benefit of the borough as a whole?

We need to send the draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Examination. The public Inquiry will provide further opportunities for people to have their voices heard but we need to send it.

Cllr Charles Fifield FRICS

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