Meeting over reserve housing sites 'just a PR exercise' say campaigners

Residents living near Gomm Valley oppose plans to release the rural area to meet growing housing demands

Residents living near Gomm Valley oppose plans to release the rural area to meet growing housing demands

First published in News
Last updated
by , Reporter

PLANNERS and councilors are 'hearing but not listening' to residents and may have already made up their mind to release areas for housing, according to campaigners trying to save one of the reserve sites from development.

Ian Morton, resident and spokesman for the ‘Hands Off Gomm Valley’ campaign, believes building on empty business and industrial sites should take priority over the rural, undeveloped spot.

He said he is worried last week’s meeting over releasing five reserve sites to meet the district’s five-year housing supply numbers could just be ‘a PR exercise’.

And since launching the campaign - featured in the BFP - Mr Morton says Wycombe District Council has not addressed issues around wildlife habitats he claims would be destroyed if any building went ahead.

He said: "Residents are not convinced that Wycombe District Council have not already made up their minds. They may be hearing us but they are certainly not listening to us and they are showing no signs of a change in direction. Is this just a PR exercise?

"In fact the leading Councillors seem to be giving the planners’ free reign to dictate to us what areas should be developed in the District. Residents are rightly asking who is actually running our local Council?"

"What I found must disturbing about the meeting on Thursday was the lack of awareness with regards to the environmental damage that building on Gomm Valley would cause. This was barely mentioned and seems to be very low on this Council's list of priorities."

Mr Morton has also criticised WDC for not following its own advice, after a 2009 council study acknowledged the impact housing would have on wildlife habitats in the valley.

And he is urging planners to consider building on empty business and industrial areas first to meet the five-year housing supply.

WDC insists releasing the sites is the only way to retain control as developers would look to build on Gomm Valley anyway.

And planners say the council would be powerless to stop them if it cannot show it is adequately meeting its housing need, which has been revised upwards to between 500 and 700 homes per year.

The two meetings, with another scheduled for next week, come ahead of a WDC Cabinet discussion and a final decision in October.

Comments (7)

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1:49pm Wed 20 Aug 14

maccapaka says...

Sadly WDC don't seem to have considered anything other than the reserve sites. As was quite clear at the meeting it is those sites first, anything else will be used later down the line (maybe).

Of course when the council allow building to take place the land will be just like a supermarket special offer - once it's gone it's gone. In this case forever.

The idea of using current brownfield areas before ripping up the countryside, surely, should be a priority. Anyone with limited grey matter could see this, couldn't they? Perhaps not.
Sadly WDC don't seem to have considered anything other than the reserve sites. As was quite clear at the meeting it is those sites first, anything else will be used later down the line (maybe). Of course when the council allow building to take place the land will be just like a supermarket special offer - once it's gone it's gone. In this case forever. The idea of using current brownfield areas before ripping up the countryside, surely, should be a priority. Anyone with limited grey matter could see this, couldn't they? Perhaps not. maccapaka
  • Score: 21

2:53pm Wed 20 Aug 14

unhappyhammer says...

The HOG campaigners face precisely the same brickwall as the Save Slate Meadow campaign and I couldn't agree more that this whole process is cosmetic and frankly insulting. The silence from our elected MPs speaks volumes and I'm yet to see any sign of a concerted and vigorous campaign from concerned councillors who may claim opposition to the plans. Removal of wildlife habitat, which we ultimately ALL need, increased flood risk, mis or non-use of brownfield site, of which there is a ludicrously large square footage in this area, increased traffic issues - and no promise of any sensible infrastructure in place to cope. How many reasons do WDC AND National Government need NOT to proceed. Good luck HOG from all at SSM https://www.facebook
.com/groups/SaveSlat
eMeadow/?fref=ts
The HOG campaigners face precisely the same brickwall as the Save Slate Meadow campaign and I couldn't agree more that this whole process is cosmetic and frankly insulting. The silence from our elected MPs speaks volumes and I'm yet to see any sign of a concerted and vigorous campaign from concerned councillors who may claim opposition to the plans. Removal of wildlife habitat, which we ultimately ALL need, increased flood risk, mis or non-use of brownfield site, of which there is a ludicrously large square footage in this area, increased traffic issues - and no promise of any sensible infrastructure in place to cope. How many reasons do WDC AND National Government need NOT to proceed. Good luck HOG from all at SSM https://www.facebook .com/groups/SaveSlat eMeadow/?fref=ts unhappyhammer
  • Score: 17

2:59pm Wed 20 Aug 14

Kania 2000 says...

Crisis management
Crisis management Kania 2000
  • Score: 6

5:32pm Wed 20 Aug 14

faircuppa says...

The Coalition Government are so hellbent on this that they have now appointed a Minister for Construction! In addition to the existing Minister. This is no doubt a scheme to boost the economy prior to the General Election. They don't seem to care about places like the reserved sites. Blaming WDC is just convenient prior to the District elections for those who intend standing. Lib Dem MPs and Conservative MPs do indeed need to be lobbied.
The Coalition Government are so hellbent on this that they have now appointed a Minister for Construction! In addition to the existing Minister. This is no doubt a scheme to boost the economy prior to the General Election. They don't seem to care about places like the reserved sites. Blaming WDC is just convenient prior to the District elections for those who intend standing. Lib Dem MPs and Conservative MPs do indeed need to be lobbied. faircuppa
  • Score: -6

6:54pm Wed 20 Aug 14

gpn01 says...

faircuppa wrote:
The Coalition Government are so hellbent on this that they have now appointed a Minister for Construction! In addition to the existing Minister. This is no doubt a scheme to boost the economy prior to the General Election. They don't seem to care about places like the reserved sites. Blaming WDC is just convenient prior to the District elections for those who intend standing. Lib Dem MPs and Conservative MPs do indeed need to be lobbied.
An observation made at the meeting was that the Central Government proposal is being foisted upon local councils but Central Government = coalition (and likely to be supported by Labour) and the affected local councils are all run by mainstream parties. The wholesale planning proposals therefore are a great promotional campaign opportunity for UKIP to exploit.
[quote][p][bold]faircuppa[/bold] wrote: The Coalition Government are so hellbent on this that they have now appointed a Minister for Construction! In addition to the existing Minister. This is no doubt a scheme to boost the economy prior to the General Election. They don't seem to care about places like the reserved sites. Blaming WDC is just convenient prior to the District elections for those who intend standing. Lib Dem MPs and Conservative MPs do indeed need to be lobbied.[/p][/quote]An observation made at the meeting was that the Central Government proposal is being foisted upon local councils but Central Government = coalition (and likely to be supported by Labour) and the affected local councils are all run by mainstream parties. The wholesale planning proposals therefore are a great promotional campaign opportunity for UKIP to exploit. gpn01
  • Score: -4

1:59pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Monty Cristo says...

Local government is having housing targets foisted on them by central government, and is therefore between a rock and a hard place - with the result that this "consultation" is a completely futile, cosmetic exercise since the sites in question will apparently be developed, like it or not.
.
Isn't it interesting then to look at the Conservative's Big Society document, the first couple of paragraphs of which are pasted further below. Read them then ask yourself whether you feel that you have ANY control over what is happening whatsoever!

begin extract
Big Society is a society with much higher levels of personal, professional, civic and corporate responsibility; a society where people come together to solve problems and improve life for themselves and their communities; a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, NOT STATE CONTROL. The Big Society is our positive alternative to Labour’s failed big government approach, and it runs consistently through our policy programme. Our plans to reform public services, mend our broken society, and rebuild trust in politics are all part of our Big Society agenda: these plans involve redistributing power FROM THE STATE TO SOCIETY; FROM THE CENTRE TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES, giving PEOPLE MORE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE CONTROL OVER THEIR LIVES..
end extract
Local government is having housing targets foisted on them by central government, and is therefore between a rock and a hard place - with the result that this "consultation" is a completely futile, cosmetic exercise since the sites in question will apparently be developed, like it or not. . Isn't it interesting then to look at the Conservative's Big Society document, the first couple of paragraphs of which are pasted further below. Read them then ask yourself whether you feel that you have ANY control over what is happening whatsoever! begin extract Big Society is a society with much higher levels of personal, professional, civic and corporate responsibility; a society where people come together to solve problems and improve life for themselves and their communities; a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, NOT STATE CONTROL. The Big Society is our positive alternative to Labour’s failed big government approach, and it runs consistently through our policy programme. Our plans to reform public services, mend our broken society, and rebuild trust in politics are all part of our Big Society agenda: these plans involve redistributing power FROM THE STATE TO SOCIETY; FROM THE CENTRE TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES, giving PEOPLE MORE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE CONTROL OVER THEIR LIVES.. end extract Monty Cristo
  • Score: -3

2:42pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Monty Cristo says...

Here is another BIg Society doc extract

Neighbourhoods will be given the power to engage in genuine local planning through collaborative democracy – designing a local plan from the “bottom up”.
Really?
Locals: "We don't want these areas developed - and our infrastructure is already crumbling"
Response: " Tough, central government requires it, and if we refuse then developers will just get permission from them on appeal ".

The Big Society document is just empty words.
Here is another BIg Society doc extract Neighbourhoods will be given the power to engage in genuine local planning through collaborative democracy – designing a local plan from the “bottom up”. Really? Locals: "We don't want these areas developed - and our infrastructure is already crumbling" Response: " Tough, central government requires it, and if we refuse then developers will just get permission from them on appeal ". The Big Society document is just empty words. Monty Cristo
  • Score: -1

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