Outcome of the Scrutiny Committee on 21 Jan 2010 at Trinity Park.

22 January 2010

After a long and energetic discussion the  meeting was adjourned at 10pm last night, and today it has been announced on the SCDC website (provided you know where to look) that it will continue on 1st February at 10am at Trinity Park.

WE MUSTN’T SUFFER FROM BATTLE FATIGUE – PLEASE TRY AND MAKE IT TO THE CONTINUATION MEETING. Remember the Council will  be beavering away over the next few days to lobby and cajole members to get this through and we need to continue to make clear to them the level of opposition, and that there ARE alternatives.

In attendance at the meeting were the  members of the Committee, supported by several officers of the Council.  In addition, quite a few other Councillors were there and were allowed to address the Committee.  Also  Councillor Andy Smith (Chair of the LDF Task Force) addressed the Committee several times.   Councillor Herring (Leader of the Council) was in the audience but did not speak.  Members of the public were not allowed to address the Committee – although our presence made the strength of feeling clear.

These are the questions which we sent to the Scrutiny Committee Members a few days before the meeting – Questions-for-Scrutiny-Committee

The nature of the opposition to the plans was more broadly based than we had dared to hope for.  In particular, a number of Councillors from other parts of the District made very good speeches about the need to put more housing in the smaller communities or else those communities would die on their feet; and that putting so  much housing in one concentrated area was not in the best interests of the District as a whole.  This is exactly what NANT has been saying from the outset.

Our own Councillors  (Councillors Blundell, Faulkner, Kelso and O’Brien) should be congratulated and thanked for their sterling efforts.  All of them spoke eloquently in opposition to the plans as they stand.

The issue of transport and the impact on traffic levels of so much building on the peninsula  was raised several times.  Councillor Smith’s answer was basically that people will just have to travel less or use public transport.  He didn’t address the fact that the smaller communities would have to travel more if their village facilities died away.

The question of whether or not Central Government or East of England Regional Policy dictates that so much housing should go in one place was raised a number of times, and it did not seem that the Council had a definitive answer to this.  We know that one of the Council’s planners has previously said in an email that “How these houses are then distributed across the district is then a matter for this Council following consultation with the general public and other consultees, to determine. It is a matter of judgement set within that national and regional framework and which has regard to the views submitted in respect of these individual settlements”.  So the Council has little scope to blame someone else, and this became apparent in the way they answered (or rather did not really answer) this question.

When asked what the impact would be if the Council agreed and submitted  for inspection an LDF that provided for fewer than the number of houses in the Regional Spacial Strategy, the Head of Planning said that the consequences would be “huge” as the Inspector would not approve it and so it could not be adopted.   The Council would then run the risk that developers would, in the absence of an approved policy framework (ie the LDF),  be able to submit and potentially drive through developments which did not accord with an overall strategy.

We agree that an overall strategy for what is best for the District as a whole should be in place to prevent ad hoc developer driven growth,  although most people find it difficult to believe that the Adastral site developer’s two planning applications have not already shaped the allocations, thereby affecting the whole District.

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