Key points to include

Sadly communities saying no and making a fuss is not reason enough to turn down a development in itself.

We have to show clearly with data, why the development is not ‘sustainable development’ as prescribed by national policy, and whether the development is insufficiently profitable to the developer/ landowners to finance the affordable housing requirement and the infrastructure. 

Below is some guidance on how to do just that. (This page is a work in progress and if you have any particular expertise in this area then please get in touch.)

The Government has recently announced that they will be adding a legally binding target to the Environment Bill, to halt the loss of biodiversity in England by 2030. We need to ensure Mendip are aware of this, this is an argument against the destruction that will be caused by SGC.

Planning boards have to work to housing targets that are based on an algorithm. The government have just said they are thinking now of reducing targets for new homes away from urban areas to the 2014 figures (generally lower that the 2018 figures currently being used) this could mean a lower housing target for Mendip than the council thought.

Officers are under great pressure to ‘meet the development needs of their areas’ according to a Five Year Housing Land Supply

According to this local authorities are compelled to give approval to developers unless “any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”

From the National Planning Policy Framework;

The planning system has three objectives;

  • an economic objective – to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth, innovation and improved productivity; and by identifying and coordinating the provision of infrastructure
  • a social objective – to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by fostering a well-designed and safe built environment, with accessible services and open spaces that reflect current and future needs and support communities’ health, social and cultural well-being; and
  • an environmental objective – to contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; including making effective use of land, helping to improve biodiversity, using natural resources prudently, minimising waste and pollution, and mitigating and adapting to climate change, including moving to a low carbon economy.

We can demonstrate that SGC does not meet these objectives.

Planning Practice Guidance – this is a key document for providing context, we are working on picking the most relevant bits out.

Is the site really deliverable as shown in terms of infrastructure and affordable housing?  Is there to be a viability statement? There are a lot of holes in LVA’s proposal – point them out.

On the issue of affordable housing too, it’s key to point out that affordable doesn’t really mean affordable by most people’s standards.

For all intents and purposes, affordable homes are the same as normal house – but the asking price is a reduced 80 per cent of the market value, with rental prices also reduced by 20 per cent. For example, a £300,000 home would be priced £240,000. Would your average working class Somerset young person in need of housing consider that affordable?

From what Transport for New Homes have seen on visits, ‘affordable’ homes are pretty minimal with hardly any garden, the houses small in size and crammed together, few urban trees and lots of tarmac. People are forced to buy and run one or usually two cars because the location of the development is all wrong and designed around car access not streets and people, and not true mixed development.

This is a car-based housing estate and is likely to be dislocated from the town. This in itself is something to consider in the light of sustainable Frome. See here.

The location of the development and its design is hardly serviceable by public transport (this may need to be shown by getting evidence from the bus companies)

Because SGC has a car-based nature and is designed for commuting on A361/A36 etc. it’s ecological impact and impact on carbon emissions are not in line with government targets – or in keeping with Frome’s or Mendip’s Declaration of Climate Emergency.

Destruction of such a large landscape will have impacts on outdoor recreation (cycling and walking along country roads) and therefore puts SGC out of kilter with government policies on active life styles. 

As a great deal of the planning board members are Liberal Democrats so it might be worth noting that their leader Sir Ed Davey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme recently on the issue of his party’s own house building commitments:

“We do want to build more affordable houses, more sustainable houses, but these planning reforms won’t to do that. Affordable house building requirements will be taken away from developers, not increased. What Liberal Democrats want is a community-led planning system which produces the homes and social infrastructure that communities need.”

It may be worth contacting the LD Planning Board members directly and asking if they intend to move in accordance with their party leader’s promises.

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