Here’s my view of the way the JCS decision went at our council meeting on Monday:
The Tories were either conspicuous by their absence or silent. Tory councillors, who normally speak out against the need for so many houses and the way the calculations have been done, said nothing. Other councillors suddenly found they had urgent engagements and left before the actual meeting. Are we to think they would rather not stand their ground and give their honest opinions, than upset the Tory leadership? What a shame for their residents!
Fortunately, the way each councillor voted was recorded for everyone to see.
For my part, I, and my Lib Dem Group, voted against the recommendation suggesting that 43,000 homes should be built in the JCS area – most of the Tories, however, voted for this (sadly only 3 voted against), even those in the Bishop’s Cleeve area.
Here is some of what I said,
” I simply cannot agree to … the suggestion that we may need 43,000 plus homes in the JCS area, this seems divorced from reality and is based on what I consider a hyper-inflated projection of economic growth in the area. This recommendation adds nothing to our resolution, as it is simply an item ‘to note’, and actually can only lead to confusion in the public’s mind – as there will be three figures for housing numbers in the final resolution: 28500, 32500 and 43220 – it will look like we can’t make up our minds..
I would also wonder that Tewkesbury councillors could ever contemplate such a large number – as it would probably mean that areas prone to flooding would not be exempt from development or from the knock-on effects of flooding from other large scale developments. ,
In addition, an over-estimation of housing numbers will lead to a situation where the number simply cannot be achieved and we may never achieve a five year housing supply and therefore be constantly at the mercy of appeals from developers – which we see we have already suffered from in Bishop’s Cleeve..”
The second point I made in my statement concerned ‘Household Size’. I believe that the figure of 28,500 houses for the JCS area (based on the Office of National Statistics population figure) should be a starting point for further work which needs to done on household size.
While I recognise the need for affordable and sustainable homes, particularly if we want our young people to stay in the area and to raise families here, we must be realistic as to the number needed over the next 20 years, bearing in mind the current economic climate.
Unfortunately, the Council agreed all 10 recommendations: I think developers will be very happy.