One voice of reason at last week’s P & R Committee was Congresbury Councillor Tom Leimdorfer.
“I think as has already been alluded to, it is a matter of putting the cart before the horse; that is, trying to determine applications at the same time as consulting.
“If you remember, when we were looking at Weston Villages, we were looking at visions; we were looking at ‘place-making’… and we kept saying ‘we want to build communities, and not simply build houses’… and yet that is what we appear to be considering doing now.
“…and taking numbers simply because it is technically possible to put those numbers in those fields.
“We had lots of briefings from senior officers about the need to build up a 5-year supply. We have not had a single meeting to ask ‘well, what does a community of this size… look like?’
“Looking at densities: in this particular [Hallam] application, the residential part is 4.2 hectares… for 170 dwellings. That’s 40 dwellings a hectare. That is an urban density. So when did we have the vision of putting an urban development at the end of an elongated village?
“…and we’re saying there will be ‘place-making’ discussions… but that really is the wrong way round. It looks as if we’re simply saying that a number has come out… a Whitehall number… and they’re saying to us: ‘Jump!’
“… and we’re making what look like bad decisions.
“So what’s the logic of this? If over the next 3 months we make four or five really bad planning decisions to get the numbers up… are we then going to be in a strong position to turn round to developers and say ‘from now on we’re going to make good decisions according to our plan. We want to be plan-led; we’ve got this Core Strategy, we’re now going to tell you to go away and come back with this sort of [?]
“So how does that work? We’re saying we’re going to allow all this [development]… irrespective of our principles… but in a few months time… we’re not, because we’ve reached the magic number. It doesn’t make sense to me.”