Statement to P & R Committee (9 March 2016)

No Moor Development made the following statement to the Planning & Regulatory Committee on Wednesday 9 March 2016. 

NB: The following prepared statement differs in parts from what was actually read out, due to the 3-minutes allocated to speakers.

 

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

We learned yesterday afternoon that the 7-week consultation period for proposed new housing allocations in the District (including the Hallam & Bloor applications under consideration today) begins tomorrow? Really? You couldn’t make this up. It is obvious that Yatton has been singled out to take the hit and Officers and the Ruling Group have sought to pre-determine the North End applications.

While there has to be space for rational growth in Yatton, development on the scale proposed has to be built around employment and local services. North End would become an anonymous mass of housing, which would turn a hamlet into a dormitory settlement twice the size of Claverham; with not a single shop.

With regards to Bloor 2, there are several reasons why this large-scale extension to the village is entirely inappropriate and unsustainable:

  • Inaccessibility to local services other than by private car was a key reason the inspector said Brinsea Road constituted unsustainable development. You know the same is true with Bloor 2. When you made your site visit last week, I observed that you all drove and parked your cars along the verge on Arnold’s Way. You didn’t make the journey to Yatton via public transport, and neither will the majority of people living at North End.
  • I believe Bloor 2 also conflicts with policy CS19 in the Core Strategy, which seeks to protect strategic gaps to help retain the separate identity, character of settlements and distinct parts of settlements. I quote: “Such protection is particularly important where such erosion could potentially cause coalescence of the settlements”. This is something the Secretary of State said should still apply even with a perceived housing shortfall in a judgement last week in Kent.
  • Others have already commented on the community’s real concerns on traffic congestion and road safety. I would only add that we received an apology from the Planning Officer when his attention was drawn to the fact the initial rejection letter from Highways and Transport had been removed from the public case file. The subsequent Addendum was re-published with the initial rejection only yesterday. While we accept the apology for an administrative oversight, this episode does rather reinforce our belief that the Council will bend over backwards to agree a technical fix on highways matters, whatever the daily reality for residents.
  • The Committee Report puts great emphasis on Yatton’s location on a main line rail link. A recently-retired First Great Western employee has told us that he cannot see how an increase in population can be accommodated on local peak time services, which are already “full and standing”. There is a shortage of rolling stock, with no likely extra capacity.
  • Members… four magic words: “Land for a school”. This is nothing more than a sweetener. Land on which Bloor cannot build houses due to its proximity to listed buildings. I think you know there is little prospect of a new school. North Somerset’s pupil projections predict that 100 new homes will generate 28 primary school children. I quote from the Committee Report: “With regard to primary school places… it is possible that the increased number of pupils generated from these developments could have a negative impact on the ability to maintain parental choice in the area. It is also possible that children from this part of Yatton and other areas within and around Yatton may need to travel to other schools with vacancies. This could be some distance from their home address.” Mr Chairman, this second phase of this Bloor development equates to a further two classrooms on its own, and will have a destabilising effect on Yatton families, including those who currently live in the village with children approaching school age.

Like previous speakers, I ask demand that the Council conduct an immediate and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the collective impact of all the proposed developments at North End. I cannot believe that any possible future judicial review would look favourably on this oversight.

It is disingenuous for Councillor ap Rees to say (as he did when addressing the Executive on 2 February) that this is a “short-term” issue [of making up the perceived housing shortfall]. Concreting over green fields is not short-term; it is forever.

Some people would have us believe that you have no choice. Politics is about making choices, and I want everyone in the public galleries this afternoon to understand that those who seek to impose a further 370 houses on North End are making a political choice. They will shed crocodile tears and try to convince you that Yatton has to be sacrificed in order to protect the ‘green corridor’ between Bristol and Long Ashton. The same Green Belt that a Link Road is currently ripping up.

We are not anti-housing; we are for housing in the right place, at an appropriate scale. At the end of last week, a Yatton resident started an online petition, which has attracted 474 signatories. We’re all saying the same: development on this scale would make living in Yatton materially worse.

Members, if you have a conscience you will not accept the recommendation of Officers’ and refuse the Bloor application before you today.

Thank you for listening.

3 thoughts on “Statement to P & R Committee (9 March 2016)

  • You did well, Steve. Every word is true and they know that. I hope they can live with their consciences.

  • A well written and thought out piece ..Thank you
    Balanced planning is essential for all developments….offering new residents access to all amenities is only fair and right .However the new and old residents of North End will find Yatton sadly lacking ….congestion. …having to travel out of the village for education and health needs. ….a short sighted decision affecting many people

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