By Greville Watts - 22nd September 2005 11:11am
A longstanding resident of Audlem said to me a few months ago that it would be a waste of time trying to get a consensus among residents about the future of Canalside Yard. I think the series of public meetings on this development have disproved his somewhat cynical remark.
Something along the lines of terraced two-storey buildings, incorporating both market and affordable housing, and a few small business (craft or office) units, would satisfy the great majority. There would also need to be adequate off-street parking and access from both Shropshire Street and the canal (pedestrian only) to a small open square. We would also want an imaginative and distinctive design in good quality materials in harmony with the local vernacular architecture.
Trouble is, we have a developer set on maximum profit who seems totally disinterested in local opinion.
The situation clearly illustrates the one-sided nature of the current planning regime. This is based on rules imposed by distant government authorities who are heavily lobbied by developers including the National Federation of Housebuilders. Profit overrides all other considerations, and local opinion, despite a façade of consultation, counts for very little in determining the outcome.
However, there is a glimmer of hope for the future in the borough's "Draft Statement of Community Involvement". Get a copy from one of the borough offices and complete and send in the questionnaire before the end of August.
One of the changes that the new planning act introduces will be an "encouragement" (my quotes) for developers involved in significant planning applications to carry out their own separate consultations with the local community. "Significant" is defined in the borough's document.
Let's give this some teeth. Developers who won't consult and listen should experience the borough's displeasure when their application is heard.
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