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Opinion: Pete Sake's take on anti-homes campaigns

By Stroud Life  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

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PRECIOUS green spaces are under threat across Stroud, it seems.

Quite understandably, residents are up in arms at proposals for 150 homes at Baxter's Field and 100 more at Rodborough Fields.

Then there's the shadow hanging over land near Eastington, or Westington as it might be known one day.

But Stroud being Stroud, the developers have a fight on their hands over all three and more which are no doubt in the pipeline.

People power is not to be trifled with in these parts, as history has shown.

Stroud folk don't know when they're beaten, whether its saving trees, historic buildings, green fields or the future of the NHS.

So judging by the turnout of residents at the Rodborough Fields meeting, the developer is in for a rough ride from a collective force which is gathering strength.

A similar protest is more than likely over Baxter's Field - a battleground where developers have been defeated twice since 1975.

Obviously, no-one really wants a housing estate as their view from the kitchen window when it could be preserved as green fields.

But, I think, what really gets residents' collective goat is predatory developers lurking around Stroud, eyeing up greenfield sites over brownfield ones.

That's understandable but what would these people do if they were in the shoes of the landowner? Hold on to a field when there is the lure of a hefty cheque? Pound to a penny, most of them would go for the cash. I know I would. We all want a comfortable retirement and financial security for our families.

Please note, these are the candid views of our columnist and not those of Stroud Life.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 28 2012, 11:49AM

    fongdewolf - yes - local communities need to be assertive, join up and formulate their local area plans and not allow district or county to set the pace - he who puts the first foot forward wins - so don't just be a follower. Need for effort and innovation - times are changing.

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  • fongdewolf  |  November 28 2012, 11:07AM

    It is now time to plan positively and imaginatively in the District. We are no longer bound by the urban orientated, anti-car approach of the past. Accordingly we are not obliged to have the alien bolt-on developments to our main centres. Given the physical constraints in the District there now lies the real opportunity to plan a 'growth centre' in the District where we can plan for our growth requirements up to 2031 in a sensible, planned and logical way. But more importantly we can also plan beyond this period so that there is some certainty over our future growth patterns. This growth centre could provide a volume of development which in turn will deliver a new sustainable infrastructure which is more able to cope with our modern living requirements. Such a growth centre would not preclude local indigenous growth (through dispersal) where it is needed but at least this local growth can be controlled by local parishes and be in scale with their requirements. The new Framework allows us to do this and I hope that this time round we are able to deliver a sensible growth vision for the District.

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  • fongdewolf  |  November 28 2012, 11:03AM

    Dear Editor Your article is suitably timed, as much of our County is currently under threat from the "predatory developers". As a resident of Stroud District I am aware that we have once again been plunged into the depth of uncertainty with new housing growth being thrust upon us and with no defence against this on-surge of perpetual growth. But haven't we been here before? And in fact this cycle of uncertainty is generally with us every 10-15 years primarily because we have not planned for our own future? No doubt many of us will recall the plan to put 1,500 houses down the Painswick Valley. Now we are faced with a Core Strategy which places development in equally unpalatable places such as Stonehouse and Eastington as well as Aston Down? It would be a utopia to think that all our growth could be accommodated on degraded brownfields sites but unfortunately there is not such a supply of brownfield land and those that are available, do have considerable constraints and are currently being worked on. Greenfields site will therefore inevitably be required and difficult decisions are going to be made in the near future. It is easy to apportion blame to the greedy developers, but are they really to blame? The developers are just responding to the current housing need in the District as well as planning for our future growth. Surprisingly we no longer have a Local Plan which will guide our future growth as it expired along with the structure plan last year. Accordingly the new Planning Policy Framework (Framework) introduced this year has a pro-growth agenda and seeks to significantly boost the supply of housing in the Country. As a matter of fact we all support this agenda, as it improves wealth and prosperity for our local economy and local people. It improves the health of the high street as well as our local businesses and more importantly provides affordable housing for our children to live in. However, the lottery of not knowing where the next new development is going to happen is what causes anxiety and despair to most of our local residents and it is this uncertainty that should be stopped. Naturally we need a new local plan in place to create our first line of defence. Flowing from this will be a series of Neighbourhood Plans, which will allow local Parishes and neighbourhood forums to decide where they want their future growth to go. This is clearly a sensible approach and is what the new Framework advocates. However, we are some way off getting a new local plan adopted (12-18 months) and in the interim the "predatory developers" will still be fighting to establish new 'sustainable housing sites'. There will be no support from the Government as their view has been set out in the recent 'Homelands Farm' planning appeal which stated: "..allowing these appeals may be seen by objectors as undermining the local democratic process and the planning system. However, he is clear that the changes to the planning system that gives communities more say over the scale, location and timing of developments in their areas carry with them the responsibility to ensure that local plans are prepared expeditiously to make provision for the future needs of their areas." The message is therefore quite simple, planning must be undertaken at a local level and done expediently and efficiently in conjunction with local people. Can we do this now? Yes we can, by setting a vision of what development we want to see in our area through the creation of draft neighbourhood plans as well as encouraging an overarching vision to be delivered quickly through a new Local Plan. It is now time to plan positively and imaginatively in the District. We are no longer bound by the urban orientated, anti-car approach of the past. Accordingly we are not obliged to have the alien bolt-on developments to our main centres. Given the physical constraints in the District there now lies the real opportunity to plan a 'growth centre' in the District where we can plan for o

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 28 2012, 10:12AM

    It hurts when development takes place near where you live - but how did anyone manage to build the homes you are living in now?

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  • QwertyOS  |  November 28 2012, 8:16AM

    No sympathies whatsoever. These same people were silent when SDC built on land in Pound Lane and Hardwicke areas.

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