Council Urged To Identify Housing Land Before Developers Move In

Telegraph area of St Mary's has been earmarked for development.

Telegraph area of St Mary’s has been earmarked for development.

The Council needs to quickly identify a five-year supply of housing land by agreeing a local plan, or developers could beat them to it and snap up building sites.

Last night, Cllr Richard McCarthy illustrated that warning with his own experiences of a small South Warwickshire village, where a number of minor developments have quickly added up to 150 new homes.

The government now allows commercial builders to create smaller, ten-property projects that are not subject to the section 106 agreements that the Council has used to ring fence new homes for local need.

The Council has rigidly applied that restriction but their view is changing.

Whilst they favour preventing holiday home building, they now suggest that removing other clauses could encourage developers to come and build here.

Builders could make profit on open-market homes, which would offset the additional building costs in Scilly.

Last night, Cllr Fran Grottick wanted to know whether the islands’ Conservation Area status could provide some protection from developers at this stage.

Planning Officer Lisa Walton felt that the designation was helpful but once the Council finalises the new Local Plan, there’ll be a policy defining the number of homes that can be built, suitable locations and the design style.

The Council is still suggesting that up to 120 new homes should be developed.

They claim there’s more demand for smaller properties now as people are living longer and want to retain independence.

But Gordon Bilsborough cautioned that some locals had told him they didn’t want more building here.

Whatever your view, whether for or against the change, you’re being promised that your comments will be heard. Every home here will be sent a long questionnaire and islanders’ replies will influence the final plan.

But the first challenge will be making the survey engaging and last night members felt that the jargon used was off-putting.

Chris Savill thought the 29 questions were “quite onerous” for the general public.

One of them asks: “Do you consider the use of Heritage Partnership agreements or listed building consent orders would be an appropriate mechanism for agreeing, up front, works which are appropriate and acceptable for listing buildings?”

Chris said if that came through her letter box it would end up in the bin.

The Council has agreed to use plain English as part of this process and Cllr Grottick reminded officers of that commitment. So the survey will be rewritten before it is sent out during a six-week consultation.

Your replies will be fed into the final blueprint which, when signed off by government, will determine all future building schemes on the islands.