2014 July: Cheadle Unite Response to SMDC Regarding Housing Proposals 2/3
The Planning inspector Patrick Whitehead (operating under National Planning Policy) also made it clear that SMDC plans should still tally with the Regional Spatial Strategy in any transition to the Localism Act.
We therefore now hope that the Localism Act also provides a similar common sense opportunity, for Regeneration and Brownfield site redevelopment to take precedence before building on Greenfield and agricultural sites.
We acknowledge that early news reports about the new Conservative led National Planning Policy Framework (which encompasses the Localism Act) indicated that the policy is heavily pro-development (to put it mildly). For example the Guardian wrote about the new policy in September 2011: “In other words, you'll be allowed to give developers what they want. You will not be allowed to prevent developers from wrecking your neighbourhood.”
However we can see from your own Core Strategy document that there are opportunities for changes to our housing allocation in the Localism Act.
For example :
2.26 Duty to Co-operate requires neighbouring local authorities including County Councils and other public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an on-going basis on cross boundary matters (e.g. levels of housing, employment, road links etc).
2.27 Local Councils are required to demonstrate compliance with the duty to co-operate as part of the examination of Local Plans. If a Council cannot adequately demonstrate that it has complied with the duty, it's Local Plan will fail the independent examination
Large numbers of Residents have already made it clear through numerous representations that Cheadle are opposed to excessive development proposals for Cheadle and have had no counter claims presented by SMDC. It is therefore reasonable to request SMDC clarify the position (i.e. factual barriers and restrictions) in writing to residents, should they exist. The above letter to central government would help if the position is genuinely unclear. SMDC is in control of timescales responses etc and impacts on planning approvals. Residents are not.
Cheadle Unite have made requests that SMDC interact with the Potteries and Stoke-on-Trent in order to ensure regeneration takes place on the many Brownfield sites that exist around the Potteries. Sites that require support following the collapse of the ‘Renew’ Project. We have had feedback from Councillors indicating that no known efforts are ongoing. For example, one Councillor has responded :
‘ As far as I know as a council we have not been told at any meeting that SMDC is working with Stoke to see if they are willing to take some of the housing allocation, the only rumour I heard is that Bill Cash MP may be looking into it’
Cheadle Unite has already made a request in our response (April 2014) to the ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ Point 5 requesting:
Residents would like transparency on the internal financial drivers and motivators with traceability and an accountability diagram within the hierarchy of SMDC, including access to levels of senior and executive staff pay and any bonus schemes included in the ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ or any other equally promoted and circulated material. The level of detail requested is in response to the disparity between what many would regard as a common sense strategy for the environment and community and actual policies to date.
The above request is made not through malice but a genuine desire to understand how SMDC is driven. Our interpretation of feedback from Councillors is that SMDC do their own thing. We look to SMDC to prove this is not the case through empowering our councillors to work for our local communities and for SMDC to see section 2.26 as an opportunity to collaborate with our City which needs the support of the surrounding areas to promote regeneration and genuine sustainability. This has to sit above politics it is something we would all benefit from.
Finally it is important to convey that Cheadle is not anti-development and that we want a far more positive interaction moving forward with SMDC. Our Letter to Bill Cash MP highlights that 1320 dwellings equates to a 26% growth in our population against a backdrop of a predicted growth of 5%
The figures are as follows:
Between 1991 & 2001 Staffordshire Moorlands recorded a ‘decline in population driven by natural change as a result of falling birth rates’ (SMDC Core strategy page 20)
SMDC detail that Migration accounted for 70.4% of demand in 2007 (SMDC Core strategy page 21)
SMDC population is 95,400 (2009) Predicted growth to 2026 is 100,200 a growth of only 4800 or (SMDC core strategy page 24, quoting the Office for National Statistics).
Cheadle population is 12,166 only 12.8% of SMDC but despite geographic road restrictions is allocated disproportionately high housing allocation targets and consequentially high numbers of new residents. Based on the Office for National Statistics figures, the average number of residents per dwelling is 2.4 residents (ONS 2009). Based on this the planned population growth by SMDC is:
Cheadle 1320*2.4 = 3168 new residents 12,166 population = 26.0% growth
Leek 1650*2.4 = 3960 new residents 19,880 population = 19.9% growth
Biddulph 1100*2.4 = 2640 new residents 19,512 population = 13.5% growth
Rural Areas 1540*2.4 = 3690 new residents 51,188 (remainder) = 7.2% growth
The target total number for SMDC looks like 13,458 were the predicted growth is 4800. Nearly 3x the 5% (14.1%)*
*Note If the 2026 5% growth prediction is based on the 2007 70% Migration ratio (we believe it is), then the actual local demand prediction is only 1.5% and SMDC’s target provision of 14.1% is nearly 10x that for Staffordshire Moorlands.