We have a housing crisis in Cirencester and the Cotswolds. The truth is that we don’t have enough homes for people to live in and the price of renting or buying a home is way beyond what an ordinary person can afford.
We need to build more homes.
However, it is important to do this in a responsible and holistic way. New developments must be what our area needs and residents should be part of the planning process, helping to shape their local area.
Developments must also be sustainable, ensuring that and new builds won’t damage our area.
Here’s what I want to see done to make sure we get sustainable development in the Cotswolds.
End current plans for 2500 homes in Chesterton
Proposals for 2500 homes on the Chesterton Farm site, South West of Cirencester, would have a severe and detrimental effect on the sustainability of Cirencester.
Local people have made it clear that we need and want more housing but that the proposed development isn’t the right answer.
We’ve had no assurances about whether or not vital infrastructure projects such as new roads, sewage problems and health provision will be solved.
An immediate halt to the plans is needed and other options should be explored.
Ensure a Local Plan is put in Place
Due to Cotswold District Council taking its eye off the ball with respect to a local plan, Cirencester and the Cotswolds are under constant threat from predatory developers.
A local plan is a document that sets out what the Council wants to see happen with land in the district and how to control development. It’s the first thing that the Government looks at when faced with a planning appeal. The Cotswolds hasn’t had an up-to-date local plan since 2011.
The current situation means that if a developer chooses to appeal a planning decision made in the Cotswolds, the fact we don’t have a local plan means we’re unlikely to win the case and the appeal will be allowed.
We urgently need a local plan in place and this has to be the priority for the Council. Local residents must have input at every stage to help shape our local area for years to come.
Build Sustainable Housing across the District
Smaller settlements across the Cotswolds are actively seeking small housing developments, I don’t think it is fair that Cotswold District Council labels these villages unsustainable under the current policy.
If we want strong, stable and thriving communities we must take into account all areas of the Cotswolds. This doesn’t mean concreting over the Cotswolds but rather assessing what sort of housing local communities need and working with them to achieve appropriate development.
If we can identify sites across the Cotswolds for housing, rather than just in the main towns and villages, this will go a long way to easing our ongoing housing crisis and help establish sustainable communities.
Slow the building of Holiday Homes
The Cotswolds is fast becoming the second home capital of the UK. Thousands of holiday homes have been built across the Cotswolds and in the Water Park in particular. This only exacerbates the housing crisis in the area.
Cotswold District Council need to stop granting planning permission for holiday homes and put a stronger emphasis on high quality low cost housing.