I read with interest Cllr Jerry Weber’s article about councillors scrutinising the Local Plan with particular reference to the infrastructure. While I am pleased that Cllr Weber now agrees with my concerns that I expressed in council about the infrastructure, it is hypocritical of him to attempt to assert that he has concerns when he, along with all of his Labour and Liberal colleagues voted unanimously in favour of the Draft Local Plan being submitted for examination. On the other hand I and some Conservative and Independent councillors both expressed concern about the plan’s soundness and voted against it.
Why did I vote against the Draft Local Plan going for examination? Not because I am against more housing because I recognise the importance of more housing particularly for our younger members of our community. I did vote against it for the same seven reasons that I articulated back last year when full council voted for/against the plan. I called the plan a ‘maybe plan’ then and nothing materially has altered subsequently against my seven reasons:
l There was and is doubt about the ‘five-year land supply’;
l The sites for Gypsies and travellers is far from settled;
l The Infrastructure Delivery Plan is far from realised;
l The potential and doubt for having to accommodate housing need from outside our district;
l Doubts about proper account having been taken of our local population’s views;
l The lack of an alternative provision if the Gateway is refused permission from central Government (refused only last Friday and now there is an urgent need for an alternative);
l Finally the latest ONS figures which predict lower population growth but only for the next ten years. Predicting growth up to 2029 is even more uncertain.
Coming back to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, the plan currently only identifies 18% of possible funding from CIL, 31% from S.106, with 51% still to be obtained. That is 51% of £276million (or £146 million still to be obtained). The Draft Local Plan actually states “other funding sources are potential sources, but further work is required to establish whether this potential can be fulfilled” so even the Draft Local Plan has its doubts about this massive funding uncertainty.
Cllr Alan Rhead, Budbrooke (Con)