QEB Update

Taylor Wimpey have been encouraged by Hart’s planning department to bring forward an application to build an additional 100 houses on the QEB site. These houses would be built on the site of the employment units which are in the original proposal.

Given that the need for employment on the QEB site was identified in two public inquiries, it would appear to be a mistake for Hart to be recommending the move from employment to housing.

Planners are keen to emphasise the importance of ‘sustainable’ development but appear to view this as simply putting more housing alongside what already exists. This is based on the mistaken belief that where houses have already been deemed to be sustainable, then additional houses on the same development must also be sustainable.

Surely a sustainable development is one which caters for the needs of the people who will live there? This must mean including some form of opportunity for local employment, at least that was the opinion of two different planning inspectors.

Planners often seem somewhat insulated from the hard economic reality of life. Generally, buying a house requires you to have a job to pay off your mortgage and having a job usually means having a place to work.

With mass production now more economical in the Far East, a manufacturing led economic recovery in the UK is going to be reliant on small specialist companies. Equally, despite large modern office blocks lying empty as victims of ‘off-shoring’, successful smaller organisations still need somewhere to base their operations.

So, it would seem to be prudent to build small light industrial and small office buildings to complement housing developments. Without these, we are giving in to the notion that everyone either works from home, sits in a long traffic jam, or stands on a crowded train to commute to work.

Replacing an area dedicated to providing local employment with 100 additional houses is rather short sighted and doesn’t seem to fit in with what most people would consider ‘planning’ to be about.

The Community Campaign will be making representations to the appeal hearing when it eventually happens. Originally scheduled for January 2013 the hearing has been adjourned indefinitely due to inadequacies in Taylor Wimpey's Environmental Assessment.