Jonathan Griffin provides answers for the most-asked questions about our recent development sites survey.
The recent Development Site Survey helped identify sites which might be acceptable by the community for development and others which should be protected from development. At the end of each question, there was a box to which people could add comments and additional thoughts. There were some common themes.
Q: Why did you use that format of question which forced me to choose both sites where I would accept development and others which I would wish to preserve?
A: If we are to provide the homes that are desperately needed by local young families, we have to have to find new sites outside the present village boundaries where we can have sympathetic development. This means making choices. We felt it would have been a cop-out to allow people only to choose sites to preserve, so we asked the same questions of everybody, to make those choices.
We limited people to no more than two choices in order to get the ‘top priorities’. It did not matter if someone did not know the other village well: they were only being asked for a maximum of two sites and these were pretty obvious.
Q: Why expand the villages at all?
A: There are over 50 families with local connections on the waiting list for affordable housing to buy or rent in the parish. If homes cannot be found for them, that does them a disservice, and risks the parish losing its vitality and becomes a retirement area with no young families. Our blog from 28 September 2018 gives a fuller answer.
Q: Can we afford to lose part of the AONB? Have we thought about the needs of wildlife and the green environment?
A: These area all important factors. That is why the results are not being treated in isolation but are being compared with other studies so that we do not recommend development on a sensitive site. However, any development will mean giving up a bit of AONB. Let’s just make sure it is a piece which makes sense.
Q: Why can we not fill in some of the gaps in the villages?
A: There is simply not enough infill space to add the number of affordable houses needed, and such infill space as there is tends to be snapped up for open-market development. For example, one site that could have been suitable has been committed, against the wishes of the Parish Council, to a development of 18 largely open-market houses. Read this blog from 3 October 2018 for a fuller answer.
Q: How do we stop more open market housing aimed at 55+ ‘retired’ people?
A: We are doing everything we can to prevent this. The Neighbourhood Development Plan will emphasise the importance of affordable housing and point out that there is no demand for more open-market housing. The Plan will have the force of law if you support it in the referendum (coming soon), but the final decision will lie with Cornwall Council to interpret the Plan as they are the Planning Authority.
Q: Won’t new housing cause further traffic congestion?
A: Yes, quite probably which is a major factor in choosing suitable sites. One site in Flushing received a strong rejection in the survey precisely because of the extra traffic it would cause. It is important that new developments include plans to minimise the effects of extra traffic.
Q: How will we ensure that the infrastructure can cope?
A: That isn’t in our control but the Plan has flagged up some of the Parish’s needs and we will rely on Cornwall Council planners to manage the development of infrastructure through the planning process. For example, new development aimed at families will have to make a contribution to additional school places yet our schools are already at their physical capacity. We will be making this point strongly in the Neighbourhood Plan. We don’t think it is acceptable to build new houses for families and then bus the children to primary schools in other parishes as this destroys the sense of community that is so important to the parish.
Q: How do we ensure that affordable houses remain affordable?
A: Developers of affordable housing are required to sign a Section 106 Agreement which ensures that affordable homes stay affordable and cannot be sold on the open market (except in very special circumstances and even then, with difficulty). This is the best reassurance we have and it works elsewhere.