Jonathan Griffin continues his series of blogs on the future of housing in our parish with a question: If we are going to expand the existing settlements then where should this be done?
This is probably the most contentious question in the Development Plan. Any new site will spark 101 reasons why they are the Wrong Answer. None of us wants a new estate on our immediate doorstep. It is all too easy to be an unconscious NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), taking a defensive position and then looking around for arguments to reject a proposed development; reasons such as traffic, lights, noise and even possible dormice, newts or bats.
The task of the Development Plan is to try and match the very real need for homes with possible sites, in the least damaging way possible.
The simplest solution is to slot new developments into brown field sites, between existing houses, or where gardens can be split up, but there are very few suitable sites and none is large enough to accommodate a whole new estate of modern houses. We are therefore faced with giving up some of the precious land from the AONB if we are to provide the homes we need.
A few years ago, Cornwall Council looked at half a dozen possible expansion sites on the margins of Flushing (2) and Mylor Bridge (4), assessing these against a series of measures: their visual impact, their proximity to the main settlements, schools and shops; their transport implications; and the availability of land. Most of the sites involved expanding into the AONB.
One site in Flushing would entail additional traffic through the main street. Another would begin to encroach on a lovely open space.
One of the possible sites in Mylor Bridge may be waterlogged; the Saltbox extension has already been turned down while a third will extend the settlement in a new direction. Another may already have been committed.
None of them is ideal but they are a good starting point for thinking about possible development sites.
Are we right to consider only developments on the edge of Flushing or Mylor Bridge? The Perran Foundry development has shown what can be done in a new or re-purposed site, albeit remote from shops and other community facilities. Are there other similar sites in the parish?
If we plan only for developments adjacent to the two existing villages then what criteria should we use? Should we insist that all development is set back from, or invisible from, the creeks and rivers which are the parish’s environmental jewels? Can we find sites that don’t prejudice significant views and landscapes? Should we look for green belts between existing estates and new ones?
What do you think?