A huge thanks to all the residents who came to see ‘democracy in action’ at Poole Council last night, and an even bigger apology for what they witnessed. The arguments made by the 49 questioners about the impact of the Local Plan on Green Belt were well made and fair, but some of the responses by the portfolio holder were disrespectful and disingenuous.
The Poole Local Plan is an important document but paraphrasing from another topic ‘No Local Plan is better than a Bad Local Plan’ and areas including the inclusion of Green Belt, inadequate sustainable transport policies and inaccurate data means that it should have been voted down. The attempts to stop my motion through bullying and closing down debate were shocking, but not surprising.
Picture shows the site according to Richborough Estates of land known as UE1
Sadly, the amendment was lost, and the Poole Local Plan adopted which means that it is inevitable that planning applications will now come forward on UE1 and UE2 (Merley and Bearwood) sites. That doesn’t mean we have to accept what is on the table, and we need to regroup and look at how we can minimise the negative impact from these developments on the existing community and also gain the most local benefit. I have already talked to residents in both Merley and Bearwood about the formation of Neighbourhood Forums who could then start to work on a Neighbourhood Plan, which could safeguard other sites against their future inclusion in another local plan for Poole Bournemouth and Christchurch and to ensure that there is real local input into the plan and access to significant portions of the Community Infrastructure Levy. Anyone interested in getting involved in the creation of this organisation, please get in touch – it will involve the whole community but needs a group to kickstart the activity while we are all still feeling sore from last night.
I am sorry that we were unable to stop the Plan in its current form, but I hope that those of you who came along understand what we are up against and will work with us going forward. I am still waiting for a reply from the Secretary of State regarding the Government policies that could help to prevent this happening in the future and when I receive a response, it will be shared. As we said last night, the Liberal Democrat solution to the housing crisis would see the creation of a series of Garden Towns, similar to those created in the '50s and '60s after the London overspill started to damage towns in the South East. This would ensure that proper infrastructure was integral to the development which not only includes roads, schools, shops and medical services but – crucially – jobs within an easy distance, the opposite to what is being suggested for North Poole which instead is being treated as a cash cow for the rest of Poole. We would also change policies to make it easier for councils to build themselves so that the profit element is taken out of building, alongside other policies that I spoke about - land-banking tax, brownfield-first policies and crucially action on second home purchases.
Read more here from The Guardian about how our housing policy differs from the other main parties and puts the power into the hands of local people.
It was hard to believe that a councillor would say out loud that ‘there are winners and losers and in this case she is sorry but Merley is a loser’ and another to say ‘you need small amounts of pain for bigger gain’ was more than disappointing, its was shameful and I am sorry residents had to hear it in the chamber last night.
To express your interest in forming a Neighbourhood Forum email me on firstname.lastname@example.org