3rd June: Details of Latest Draft Plan released by WHBC

HEADLINE FACTS FOR PANSHANGER:

  • Option 2: Panshanger airfield and Hillyfields Meadow ‘Should be considered for allocation’ with either 650 homes, including Gypsy and Traveller Pitches plus primary school, with no changes to the Green Belt.

  • Option 3: Panshanger airfield and Hillyfields Meadow ‘Should be considered for allocation’ with either 725 homes, including Gypsy and Traveller Pitches plus primary school, with changes to the Green Belt.

  • An option 1 is not mentioned at all, who knows what happened to that?

  • It recommends 28 homes should go on the small strip of land beside the Bericot Way Care Home, currently under construction.

  • The parcel of land opposite Moors Walk shops is shown on the new map as area for housing ‘Pan02’, but it is not referenced anywhere in the document wording?

In advance of the two council committee meetings to consider the updated Local Plan (13th & 15th June), which will go out public consultation ‘in the summer’ a report pack has appeared on the council’s website showing what is now being proposed, including for Panshanger. You may recall that there have been three public consultations about this since 2009, this will be fourth, and probably final one. At each consultation the councils assumptions and information has been challenged. Thousands of comments have been submitted by residents  into each consultation, most of them objecting to the plans. Including objections asking why local residents previous objections have not made an iota of difference to what the council proposes.

Disappointingly the same has happened yet again. All those thousands of comments submitted back in Jan-March 2015 have made absolutely no difference to what is now proposed for Panshanger, if anything the proposition has got worse for local residents.

Consider the foreword to Goverment’s National Planning Policy Framework  legislation by Minister for Planning Greg Clark in 2012:

“In recent years, planning has tended to exclude, rather than to include, people and communities. In part, this has been a result of targets being imposed, and decisions taken, by bodies remote from them. Dismantling the unaccountable regional apparatus and introducing neighbourhood planning addresses this.

In part, people have been put off from getting involved because planning policy itself has become so elaborate and forbidding – the preserve of specialists,

rather than people in communities. This National Planning Policy Framework changes that. By replacing over a thousand pages of national policy with around fifty, written simply and clearly, we are allowing people and communities back into planning.”
It is evident to us that our community is very much being shut out of planning. Government policy it seems is not being applied here.
Residents may know that the council’s new meeting chamber costing over £700,000 was recently opened for council business. Committee meetings, including those on the 13th & 15th should be taking place there. This chamber also included recording/streaming facilities. However, because the council is expecting more than a handful of residents to turn up to witness the ‘debate’ on the 13th and 15th, they are holding it back at the external venue in Mundells, where there is apparently more room for the public.  This is poor considering the councils statement about the new chamber not long ago “This is set to be the borough’s first ever purpose built council chamber, and it has been designed to meet the needs of residents now and in the future.” (Then Cllr Alan Franey). Clearly, having just opened, the chamber is not meeting the needs of residents. This means that all these important meetings concerning the future of Panshanger will not be properly recorded for the public to see, despite the equipment being bought and installed. Convenient?
Therefore we encourage people to attend these meetings to show that despite our input into the consultations being routinely ignored, people still want a voice in  all this, as the law states they should have. Lastly, we know that the councils planners met with the elected leadership a few weeks ago in a meeting to discuss this new plan. It wasn’t open to the public nor are any minutes available. It may well be that this plan has already largely been given the thumbs up by most of those attending to vote on the matter on the 13th and 15th. We cannot say for sure of course as this all happened behind closed doors.  We recall that last time around both CHPP and Cabinet committees went through the motions, and nodded through the then plans at these meetings, despite a high public turnout.
We will have more to say about all this in coming days. Here are the tables concerning Panshanger (click to enlarge):

Scenario 2:

WGC4 Scenario 2 1024

Scenario 3:

WGC4 Scenario 3 1024