We’re going back to Yiannis at 132 Wollaton Road, Beeston NG9 2PE for the next eat’n’debate on Saturday (12.30-14.00). The subject this time is whether we are over- or-under represented with:
Town and parish councillors (in some area but not others)
Consultative NHS bodies
…and maybe some other elected bodies too. How much is too much? Could we merge some levels without losing accountability? Or is sharing the way forward?
As usual, the deal is a delicious meal (with a vegetarian option, and a generally Greek flavour) and scintillating debate for £20, of which half goes to my campaign fund. In order that we reserve the right amount of space, please let me know if you expect to come!
The Government Inspector’s report on the Nottingham+Broxtowe+Gedling Aligned Core Strategy Plan is out, and can be found here:
It confirms that
- the Government’s planning framework required them to build all the homes they planned
- the councils need to plan jointly, and cannot each assess their own needs separately
- Broxtowe should have the smallest housing requirement (because of the lack of suitable brownfield land)
- the Government’s 5-year expectation for new housing requires building on Field Farm even if the Boots development were accelerated
- specific blocks of student flats are foreseen to reduce pressure on housing in Beeston
- the plan is not expected to cause any difficulties for HS2, if that goes ahead
Apart from a few tweaks, including the important provision that the housing plan should be adjusted downward if demand proves lower than expected, the Core Strategy is approved unchanged. The much-criticised council officials are entitled to feel that the report shows that they understood Government policy correctly.
Formally, the Council now has to decide if it agrees to accept the report; this is in practice certain, since what’s happened is that the report confirms that the councils have followed Government strategy. In principle, the Field Farm issue is not yet settled, however, since Mr Pickles said he intended to call an inquiry about it “unless circumstances change”. We will need to see what happens with that and whether there are any legal challenges.
I think both the Toton and Field Farm developments are regrettable, because they will consume two of our remaining green areas and I’m concerned about both traffic and environmental impact. My view, as I’ve said before, is that both current and the last Government have put too much emphasis on development in green field land and not enough on denser urban development. If we don’t get out of the habit of sprawling outwards aiming for villas and bungalows for every resident, we will inevitably keep eating green belt, while failing to provide enough affordable housing. I would have liked to see Broxtowe’s MP focus on that rather than act as the Government’s cheerleader for the HS2 project, while ineffectively trying to argue that it clashed with the development. The outcome is that the Inspector has reported that the “economic benefits” of Toton development are actually reinforced by the HS2 project.
It is, however, a complex and very detailed paper, and worth looking through to get an idea of the likely development of our area over the next 15 years if Government policies do not change. It is a careful analysis and contains useful positive elements in addition to the ones that I’m criticising, including protection of land around Brinsley and Eastwood, noting the DH Lawrence connection, and an implied welcome for development on the Kimberley brewery site and Chetwynd Barracks which could reduce the need elsewhere. See what you think.
Just a note to congratulate Anna Soubry on her promotion. She was the junior Minister in defence (“Parliamentary under Secretary”) and is now one level up (“Minister of State”). Whatever our differences, she is resolutely loyal to her party and I hope she will enjoy her new responsibilities.
Normal competitiveness will resume tomorrow!
Another quick note, just to pass on the news that Cator Lane will reopen to traffic on Tuesday. I’ve asked the bus companies if and when they will resume use of the route.
Just a quick note to say I had an interesting debate on the regional Notts TV show which will be broadcast tonight at 9pm (I think it gets repeated a couple of times next week). Details of how to tune in to this new Notts-specific channel (which was launched with Evening Post and BBC backing) are here:
The other participants were Neil Clarke (Conservative leader of Rushcliffe), Jason Zadrozny, LibDem) and Katharina Boettge (Green). They plan to have a UKIP speaker on in a future programme. We discussed the NHS, the strikes, engaging young people in politics, fracking, student issues, local development and street busking! – the programme lasts an hour or so.