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Councillor worried about apathy over local plan
A COUNCILLOR has expressed his concern at the amount of people who do not seem interested in where homes will be built in the district within the next 17 years.
Members of the public are currently being asked to express their opinion on the Wycombe District Council Local Plan, which needs to highlight areas for business and housing growth up to 2031.
Princes Risborough has been earmarked in the plan's leaflet, which has been sent out to households within the district. Proposals include 450, 1,000 or 2,500 homes.
The town's councillors on Tuesday night expressed their concern that many residents are not even aware of the plan.
Cllr Alan Turner said: "We can't take people by the hand and say, 'Come on, look at this.'
"An awful lot has been done to publicise it. If people can't be bothered to look at what comes through the letterbox- it is not that difficult."
The town council held a public meeting in the community centre, which attracted 300 people, and WDC's meeting at The Princes Centre had 200 people attend.
But the town has a population of around 8,000 and councillors said only a minority seems to be responding at the moment.
Cllr Turner said some people just cannot be bothered and added: "Do we pander to people who are really so apathetic and who are shovelling all the effort to someone else- it really does worry me."
The council has a meeting on April 3 with WDC's head of planning, Penelope Tollitt- a day before the consultation ends.
Cllr Gary Hall said: "I am very concerned we are not hearing enough from our residents.
"We are hearing a lot from a minority of people. The bulk of the residents we are not hearing anything from.
"In the Summerley Road area neighbours aren't even aware they could have a main road coming through there.
"These changes could happen. So many people are sleepwalking into this without even realising."
But Cllr Will Streule said the news does seem to be starting to reach people, but as a council they need to make sure they represent the town's opinion.
He said: "The town is dead against any of these options. No-one has said to me they moved to Risborough to see it double in size."
However Cllr Turner said: "I am getting the opposite. It strengthens the point we need to have our meeting before we make a decision."
Cllr Bill Bendyshe-Brown said he has had only negative feedback regarding the options, other than slow growth, which is already planned at 25 homes a year.
The council agreed to meet with the head of planning before they made a formal decision on their response.
The council later agreed to look into the costs of setting up a neighbourhood plan. A neighbourhood development plan establishes general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood.
Having one would give the community a greater say on the local plan.
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