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The current plan is out-of-date and doesn’t take into account recent developments on the islands like high-speed broadband.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

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

  1. Ray Wornes March 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Yetanoth, I would say that you need to read my comments several times before you start accusing me of being a nimby. To Adam who seems to imply that I want to stop young people getting on to the property ladder, I put a policy on Shared Ownership of Housing to this Council and to the Gov’t in around 1997 which was specifically aimed at helping first time buyers. I received no reply from this Council but received a long letter from the Sec of State for Local Gov’t who implemented the policy. That policy benefitted many people who today say they wouldn’t have been able to get on the housing ladder without shared ownership. I repeat, I have not objected to the houses that have been built around me but what I am saying is that there should be no more housing estates built in areas important to tourism and that especially applies to areas of Scilly that have hitherto been considered to be country areas such as Telegraph and McFarlands Down which are loved by tourists. How we build and where we build has to be debated to find a new way forward towards doing minimal damage to our natural environment for the sake of Scilly’s future generations.

  2. Ray Wornes March 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Saying that this Local Plan will be the most consulted document doesn’t fill me with any confidence. I can’t see how islanders will get what they want from this Local Plan unless the whole process is redesigned. Consultation on questions determined by the planners at the start of the process may not be the questions that islanders need answered. This process is too open to influence by Consultants and developers. Islanders rarely get the comprehensive information they need to answer the issues important to them. One Public meeting will not provide the level of information needed by islanders to understand and respond to such a large number of complex local Planning issues. Under this limited type of consultation process alternative ideas won’t be known to anyone but the proposer and therefore don’t stand a chance of being explored by all islanders or Planners.

    Planning which is sympathetic to the natural environment of Scilly, a Conservation Area and crucial to tourism, has been sadly lacking and seems to have been driven by purely commerical considerations. When is it time to stop developing in an area like Telegraph which keeps on being mentioned as part of the Council’s conditioning process and when considerable development has already taken place without the basic infrastructure that was needed? Promises of installing mains services in order to get people to agree to major greenfield estate-type development which would ruin the rural character of Telegraph and McFarlands Down is arm-twisting politics. Just stick to local need. There are many other places where no development has taken place for decades and where one or two houses should be acceptable. Telegraph doesn’t need a half-empty shop or a Pub and all of the traffic they would generate. Islanders’ permission should have to be sought, Yes or No in the form of a paper ballot on the final document, to be submitted to the Gov’t.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins March 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      The trouble is Ray that a straight ballot among existing residents is always going to return a no vote. It is human nature to want to close off opportunities for the next generation as soon as their own needs are catered for. It will have to be a little more objective than that!
      Personally I think that there are such limited opportunities for development that a sustainable housing stock for future generations of working islanders is a must to prevent the islands becoming another seaside retirement or second home ghost resort like nearly every coastal village on the mainland. Its not like you can move a few miles down the road to a less desirable area ! From my own earlier days experience, I would like to see many more small starter units which were small and less desirable enough to encourage people to move on as they became wealthier and started families and so free it up for the next generation.I cannot see that putting development opportunities on the open market is anything other than throwing away a very precious space resource tor no long term benefit. If the islands are to stay a working community, the stock needs to be protected by 106s. I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on the conservation area or build costs will skyrocket.

    • Yetanoth March 28, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Ray, I do believe you’re a NIMBY
      Have you consulted your neighbours about a pub and shop, for all you know they might welcome such a development.

  3. Adam Morton, St.Martins March 27, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Well done Fran. Affordability needs to be in context, ignoring it dooms any project to failure and completely changes the cost of construction. No one asked the Council to set fares but any other LA has the responsibility of providing roads for access- a substitute has to be found. No one else has the authority to deal with this problem so copping out simply isn’t good enough.