Over the last few months we’ve heard a lot about North Warwickshire Borough Council’s Local Plan.
Local Tory Councillors and our Tory MP have been peddling myths about what it means for North Warwickshire and how it will impact on local people.
I thought it might be useful to set a few things straight:
The Local Plan is for 6800 new homes between 2011 and 2033
The Local Plan is actually for over 9700 new homes between 2011 and 2033. The plan includes 3700 homes the Council has taken from Birmingham ‘overspill’.
The Council is being forced to take 3700 homes from ‘Labour’ Birmingham
The Council is under a legal ‘duty to co-operate’. This is a new law introduced by a Conservative Government which says where one local authority does not have the land to build the homes they need; neighbouring Councils should look to build those homes in their own Council area. A ‘duty to co-operate’ is not a duty to accept -; at least that is what former Tory MP for North Warwickshire, Dan Byles said.
A third of these new homes have already been built in the Borough
This is incorrect. Just over 1000 new homes have been built in North Warwickshire since January 2011. Around 8700 of the homes proposed in the Local Plan have yet to be built.
“if a full modernisation of the A5 doesn’t happen then we will not be delivering a large proportion of that housing”
The Local Plan contains an aspiration to improve the North Warwickshire part of the A5 but it provides no major funding for the potential £100 million+ project. There is absolutely no guarantee that improving the A5 is a pre-requisite for development. In fact, the Highways department at Warwickshire County Council have made clear that they think the majority of new homes (at least 6000-7000) can be built without any major improvement to the A5.
“Our roads and health services have been somewhat neglected for years as very little investment came into the Borough. With the growth we have to take, there is now the opportunity to use this to improve our facilities.”
It is true that North Warwickshire has seen very little investment over recent years. Since 2010 we’ve had a Tory Government cutting investment funding, closing the Building Schools for the Future programme, delaying funding for new roads, slashing the Government capital funding programme and decimating Local Government.
It is not true that new housing provides investment for improving existing services. Developers do have a legal duty to provide funding for any impact a development has on a service but not to provide funding for issues that already exist.
Developers may have to provide funding, as an example, for extra school places, but this is for the new pupils created by the new housing. It will not solve the already growing funding crisis within our schools, where class sizes are growing and parents are faced with sending their children, in some cases, to different schools, miles apart.
The local Tories have also tried to pit communities against one another. They’ve been telling residents in areas not impacted by huge housing development, that they should support this local plan to protect their own area.
The reality is that this plan is bad for the whole of North Warwickshire, whether you live near to a proposed development or not.
A housing plan is only worth the paper it’s written on if the Council also has a five-year land bank. This means that the Council must have a five-year supply of sites with planning permission needed to deliver the local plan. A five-year supply of 9700 is around 3233 homes. At the moment, the Council has nowhere near this figure.
This means that the whole of North Warwickshire is opened up for developers, as the residents of Ansley Village have recently discovered when land, not in the plan, was given planning permission because the council did not have a five-year land bank.
So please, respond to the current consultation. Even if you’ve responded before, you need to respond again. This time the responses will be read by the Government appointed inspector so it matters now, more than ever.
You can response online by going to https://www.northwarks.gov.uk/info/20028/forward_planning/1090/planning_consultations