Friday, 27 February 2015

20,000-home development on hold after Localism Bill fears

Plans to build 20,000 homes in Stevenage have been thrown out after the Planning Inspectorate deemed the council’s draft Core Strategy ‘unsound’.

Stevenage is designated as a major housing and employment growth point in the regional strategy, the East of England Plan, which was adopted in May 2008..

The plan involved Stevenage Council linking with North Hertfordshire District Council – who were planning to build 9,600 homes as part of an urban extension to the west and north of Stevenage.

However North Herts backed out of the expansion in June 2010 after Eric Pickles announced he would abolish regional strategies with the Localism Bill.

Instead, powers are proposed for districts to set their own local housing targets and as such North Herts has begun work on setting its own target in anticipation of the passage of the Bill.

The authority told the Inspector, Douglas Machin, it was unlikely that any local target would make provision for Stevenage’s needs.

This convinced the Inspector that the growth of the town planned in Stevenage’s draft Core Strategy is now undeliverable.

Mr Machin’s recommendation to withdraw the draft Core Strategy is binding.

John Gardner, executive member for environment and regeneration at Stevenage Council, said: ‘The contents of the Inspector’s report require careful and detailed consideration.

‘Before we decide precisely what we want to do, we would like to see the progress of the Localism Bill, the long-awaited National Planning Framework and the revised Development Plan Regulations.

‘The Council will also want to take into account the impending decisions in the High Court on the challenge to the West of Stevenage planning permission and the Court of Appeal decision by Cala Homes.

‘We have not made any decisions about the future development of the town following our receipt of the Inspector’s report and we will not do so before the autumn.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • All going well then for the housing minister who hates houses. North Hertfordshire is not far from Welwyn, Schnapps' constituency where is backed a campaign to prevent the building of 10,000 new homes. Let's hope the next time he dribbles out his platitudes of concern about the homeless, someone points out that thanks to him and Wreckless Eric there will be 10,000 less homes in a part of Hertfordshire that is in desperate need of places to live. And that a lack of homes is actually at the bottom of the homelessness problem.

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  • Chris

    Well done Shapps - now where are all those people in Stevenage who wish their own home going to live, where will the underoccuppiers and elderly in family homes move to, where will the growing families be rehoused?

    30,000 not housed in just two boroughs by the action of the Minister for Housing - for pity's sake do not let this human-disaster maker anywhere near the health service.

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  • Perhaps the explanation for lack of housing approval came in today's Metro, with Wreckless Eric approving dumping of nuclear waste? Admittedly this was near Peterborough, but perhaps they have similar plans for Hertfordshire?

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  • Gavin Rider

    Gresley - how many homeless people are there in Stevenage?

    These homes were planned not to address a homelessness problem, they were part of planned economic growth, in other words the homes would be for additional workers brought in to run the engine of the local economy.

    Stevenage is a mess already - adding 20,000 more homes by building on greenfield sites to the West of the town would just make it a bigger mess and destroy the countryside. For what? - for someone's ill-conceived vision of "economic growth" in a town where the majority of the employment long since relocated to cheaper parts of the country or abroad.

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  • Chris

    Unfortunately Gavin, the reality of a capitalist economy is grow or die. If that growth is not in the New Towns then where do you propose it should be - or are you saying that we should try a different economic model as the way forward? How about Commonwealth - seems good to me.

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  • The homes in Stevenage would add to the general number of homes available which in turn would help combat homelessness. We as a nation have decided to focus all our economic growth on the M25 area and its immediate environs. I don't agree with that decision, made implicitly and explicitly since the mid eighties. But it has been made and is clearly one the Con/LibDem/BlueLabour coalition have no intention of changing. The consequences are that the favoured areas, if they are to benefit from growth, have to accept that part of the price of that is more homes for people to live in. Just as in the Midlands people in the past accepted a large number of factories across the conurbation, the north east shipyards and coalfields and the north west millsand engineering asthe price to be paid for jobs, careers, economic sustainability then I'm afraid the likes of Stevenage have got to realise that there are no free lunches in this world. Unless the plan is to ship in workers from the north and the Midlands and house them in workhouses, townships, dormitories.

    Having said that, and bearing in mind the social ethos that underpins Call-me-Dave's world view, maybe that IS the intention?

    The alternative to Stevenage et al having lots of new homes is to direct investment top the places where people live. It was called regional policy and before that industrial policy. Kind of worked too as we didn't have such a huge economic divide running across the heart of our nation.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Gresley - if you think that homelessness is caused by there being insufficient homes available, I am afraid there is little hope for you.

    There are two different problems to consider - affordability and availability. Availability without affordability does not solve the problem. Neither does affordability without availability. What is needed is simultaneous availability AND affordability.

    Unfortunately, the homeless could not afford a home regardless of the number of new houses you build, unless you are willing to give them away for nothing, because the homeless generally have nothing. Therefore, to address the problem of homelessness you specifically have to build homes that will be provided to homeless people for free.

    Building lots of other types of houses will not affect the homeless at all, because they cannot access them (except perhaps by squatting in them if they are left empty and unsecured).

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  • Gavin Rider

    Chris - not quite. The economy only has to grow to sustain expansion of consumption. If you consume less, you don't need economic growth to pay the ever-increasing bills.

    Economic growth does not come from building more houses, it comes from providing gainful work for people. Unfortunately David Cameron seems to think that the gainful work we should be providing is building houses. That is not going to sustain the economy of this country, any more than giving half the population jobs working for the government and related services did under Gordon Brown - it is actually parasitic and destructive to the economic wellbeing of the country in the longer term.

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  • Sean Farley

    Gavin, your argument appears to refute the basic ecconomic principles of supply and demand???

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  • McMadman


    Don't worry. For his next trick, Gavin will argue black is white and then, despite our protestations that in that assertion, like much else he says, that he is totally wrong, he will them promptly prove exactly how wrong he is by being killed on the next zebra crossing he uses.

    (Due apologies to Douglas Adams/Hitch Hikers Guide).

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