New Local Plan Will Be ‘Most Consulted Document’ In The Council

hugh town from BuzzaThe shortage of affordable housing in Scilly has dominated the first Council meeting to draw up a new Local Plan.

That’s the document, required by law, which will guide planning decisions for the next ten years.

The current plan is out-of-date and doesn’t take into account recent developments on the islands like high-speed broadband.

But the Council will need to gather the thoughts and ideas of locals before it can be submitted to the government.

Senior Manager of Planning, Craig Dryden, said this was likely to be “the most consulted document” in the Local Authority.

Depending on the final plan, it could pave the way for up to 120 new homes to be built on the islands.

That was the recommendation made in last year’s Ash Futures Economic Strategy, commissioned by the Council.

But Planning Officer Lisa Walton said a lot more evidence would need to be collected before that number could be accepted.

And Craig confirmed that the final total is likely to include a mix of housing suitable for elderly residents needing extra care, as well as first time buyers, key workers and business entrepreneurs.

There could also be some ‘open market’ housing mixed into any development, to help subsidise the high cost of building in Scilly.

Current planning policy in Scilly doesn’t allow this to happen.

But St Martin’s councillor, Colin Daly, was against this. He said every house built on the open market is “wasted” when there were others who needed the homes.

Clustering new homes into existing or new communities might also be preferred because it would help focus upgrades to infrastructure, like water and sewerage, into just a few areas.

The current plan outlines several areas for future development, including Telegraph on St Mary’s.

The plan won’t just look at housing, but how the local economy can also be supported.

But Cllr Fran Grottick took issue with some of the wording of the scoping document.

Its first aim was “to secure resilient, year-round transport services to Cornwall and further afield.” That was similar to the current Local Plan, but with the word ‘affordable’ removed.

Fran wanted to know why that had been omitted.

Cllr Gaz O’Neill told her the Council couldn’t interfere with the fares set by the commercial transport operator.

Residents will be able to give their response to the plan through a series of questions.

These include your thoughts about where new housing should be built, whether you think IT entrepreneurs should be encouraged to move here, and whether renewable energy and smart grids have any potential.

You’ll also be asked for your views on uPVC windows, although Cllr Adrian Davis wanted to know why such a specific question had been included.

Craig said the environmental impact of older plastic windows being taken out of properties and scrapped was likely to be “huge” over the next 20 years.

At the moment, the Council can only refuse permission for them on aesthetic grounds and not for environmental reasons.

Cllr Grottick felt the community’s thoughts on the plan were so important that it should be sent to every home in Scilly and her fellow councillors agreed.

The consultation period will run from April to July with the new plan likely to go to the government sometime during the summer of 2016.

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