Please see below the comments and commentary to support the consultation into the Local Plan from Chase Community Independents Group
Firstly to acknowledge the huge amount of work, evidence and reports to support the Local Plan and thank you to officers for all their specialist hard work to bring together this stage of the Local Plan process.
Whilst the Strategic Objectives are to be taken as a collective we believe that the current Objective 8 – To Support a Greener Future should be drafted higher in the order. This is important to reflect the Council declaration of a Climate Emergency and should be the first thing people read when considering development in our community.
The language within this section is non-committal and should be drafted stronger to reflect the desire of the Council and the Community that all new developments must be Zero-Carbon and must incorporate measures around thermal insulation, micro power generation in every home, grey water harvesting etc. Further that any developments over 10 dwellings must be constructed to be energy consumption which does not need to draw upon the national grid.
There should be a specific policy statement which does not permit the extraction of fossil fuels and in particular by unconventional means within the District.
Carbon offsetting and external mitigation measures should not be accepted.
Linking Objective 8 to Objective 5 (Sustainable Transport and Communications) all developments over 10 dwellings must create means of active travel linking to the existing active travel routes and developments over 100 dwellings must contribute to the wider establishment of active travel in the District with the creation of new routes to link up our communities. This may include the promotion of public transport infrastructure linked to the active travel routes.
Social infrastructure should be developed as a priority within the timing of a development being built with a presumption of these elements being built first before dwellings are occupied.
The quantum of new build dwellings is excessive towards the available land within the District and no additional need should be accepted from the Greater Birmingham housing need assessment. This report clearly shows many other areas which are much more suitable to cover the wider need for housing and Cannock Chase does not need to take this quantum in to the calculations.
It is disappointing that the Local Plan presents the development in Greenbelt land ahead of exhausting brownfield development as its strategic housing sites and this should be reconsidered. The continued expansion from Norton Canes to Heath Hayes and now in the other direction is not supported by social infrastructure, including roads, and not fit for purpose.
Within the Tables of areas of land identified for development as a preference of the Council in the Local Plan there are a number of these which we do not support owing to their erosion of the Green Space Network in its many guises. In particular to mention two sites; the land identified as H30 Land at Rawnsley Road, Hazel Slade. This is an important nature corridor and must be maintained to link Hednesford Hills SSSI through to the Cannock Chase AONB. The land identified as SH2 Land to the East of Wimblebury Road at Bleak House, Heath Hayes. This creates an extensive new building line which encroaches in to the wider green spaces network needed to maintain the existing village structures which are already eroded with the conjoining of Heath Hayes and Wimblebury and should be maintained as Green Belt. There are other locations which could be considered ahead of any consideration of green belt development.
The maintenance of nature corridors and routes should be a major priority of any development plans.
The housing choice needs greater emphasis on single living either as people owning their first home, working age people living alone or older residents needing a range of single living accommodation options. We have more rooms per head of population than any time in our history but have a poverty emergency and homelessness crisis. Any development should acknowledge these conditions and preference addressing this social and economic inequality.
Strategic Objective 1 talks about the distinctive, high quality development where development over the past decade of more has been more about the standard build by standard building companies. If this is to be a Strategic Objective then we need to define what we mean by distinctive and high quality.
The quantity of employment land is insufficient for our resident population and this must be balanced against any proposed growth in housing. A key element of addressing the Climate Emergency is to reduce the travelling miles in particular for work, therefore the development of commercial and industrial infrastructure should have greater emphasis to accompany a wider commitment to the promotion of smaller business, business incubation and local services.
We believe there should be a dedicated quantity of land directed towards sustainable energy production in the same manner as employment land.
Objective 2 should emphasise creating a healthy environment in which to live and less emphasis on more built facilities. We acknowledge this is more difficult to achieve but greater research and understanding of active travel and outdoor living as opposed to more Leisure Centres will likely improve life outcomes for everyone in Cannock Chase
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