I write in response to recent letters describing Bury Vision 2031 as a council imposition and questioning who homes will be needed for.
The new homes are needed for you. The population of over 65 year olds is set to grow by 33 per cent and demographic trends are clear about the demand. New Government forecasts published last week indicate the population of the borough will grow by 15,000 over the next 20 years.
The number of houses we are planning for was set in the Core Strategy published in December 2007. We are now working out the detail. The Bury Vision 2031 gives you the opportunity to highlight the things you know you want for your community. Perhaps you aren’t clear exactly what you want, but have concerns about what you might get. I recommend that you read the proposals and answer this simple question: Do you agree with the preferred option for development of this site? Would you recommend any changes to the preferred option?
The proposals on line www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/LDF or call planning policy on 01284 757368 or email LDF@stedsbc.gov.uk
Cllr Terry Clements,
St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for planning.
n I’ve been poring through the council’s Vision 2031 document. At first read it seems a commendable document, just the sort of thing our councils should be crafting to capture the issues to evolve our environment in the years ahead. It looks joined up, with 10 key interconnected themes laid out in some detail. However, with a further read and a critical eye, this is not as consultative as it claims; nor does it hold to account the council for delivery of all aspects of the plan.
Firstly, it states that there will be at least 6,350 new homes to be built in Bury by 2031, without sharing any of the assumptions made to justify this growth, and we are further told that this is not even up for debate. There’s the equivalent of an oil tanker coming our way and the only thing we can seem to do is try to give it a shoulder nudge.
Secondly, the document is full of very laudable aspirations, recognising that more people will need not just houses, but supporting infrastructure, water/sewers, transport, jobs, retail space, green space, well-being etc, but the plans for these are just not nailed down. We’re at grave risk of the 6,350 new houses being regarded as gospel, but the rest just fades into rhetoric.
Surely, if we are to hold our civil servants to account (including our MPs), we should reverse the way the priorities are looked at. That is, the council should have an aspiration for the housing numbers, but that housing starts will only be granted when hard targets for the rest can be met. For example when the council can show that water services allow, car journeys into the centre demonstrably managed, new transport infrastructure provided (rail and cycle-ways), new jobs evident, etc, then another phase of the house building gets a green light.
We know that Bury is close to the limits on many factors necessary for supporting growth, so let’s see the hard plans and targets from the council to mitigate these issues before phased housing starts.
n I attended the recent Heart meeting on the Howard estate reference the Vision 2031 proposals for North-west Bury. The impression I got was that 6,000 new homes will be built on the five strategic growth areas around Bury – the justification for this seemed partly due to our increasingly ageing population. I was more than a little concerned however that there seems to be complete uncertainty regarding the type, size and price of the homes to be built here.
Yes, we need more homes, but building just ‘family’ homes is not the answer. There will also be a need for many smaller, one and two-bed, single-storey homes preferably in clusters and near local transport, amenities etc, in which the ever-increasing older population can live independently for longer. The developers say there is not a demand for these type of houses, but it’s a no-brainer – there will be by 2031 and beyond.
n Anyone who attended the meeting at Howard Middle School will be in no doubt that St Edmundsbury Borough Council is out of touch with the views of the townspeople they are committed to represent. The gentleman who spoke for the developer Countrywide properties described the site outside Fornham All Saints as ‘the most oven-ready’ of the various possible locations for new houses. It’s nice to know our precious green fields are thought of in these terms. Our goose is already being cooked, before the townspeople’s views have been sourced let alone considered.
We were asked to swallow the idea that the developer would be providing much needed housing for locals and not for folk coming from outside of our town. In answer to a question from David Ruffley MP, the spokesman for the developer couldn’t say what price the houses they are proposing to build would be sold for however. As Mr Ruffley rightly said, he would be a poor businessman indeed if he hadn’t drawn up a budget, based on what money could be made from the development.
We were given figures which showed the average income in the town is circa £25,000 but it became pretty clear that what is being planned is a top end development, beyond the reach of the man in the street. It will be attractive for folk wishing to commute to London, who earn a London salary, but want to pay Suffolk prices. So much for providing an answer to the housing needs of people on the council’s waiting list.
We were told most five year olds born here will live to be 100. The houses they propose to build will be for growing families not for 100 year olds. Most folk of that age live on their own, not in two -five bedroom properties. No-one could say how many ‘affordable’ homes would be. So how exactly does this particular development ease the council’s waiting list? I sat in the meeting from 6.30pm to gone 9pm and I am still none the wiser.
The more one listened, the more it became as plain as the nose on your face; what they are trying to sell us as being good for Bury, just does not add up.
Elizabeth A Hodder,
n Incomers want to move to this region for all the same reasons that we like living here. It is unfortunate that the influx of such numbers over that period will in itself destroy the very environment we love and wish to maintain.
Concerns over road infrastructure will pale into insignificance when compared to other problems.
Water is a very limited resource. In future we will have restrictions on total water supply with supplies having to be turned off at certain periods. Planned closure of power stations and lack of efficient replacement sources means that the same thing will happen with electricity within the next 10 years.
I suggest that it is these basic issues of population growth and movement which should be, but are not at present being, addressed by local or national politicians.