Plan­ning hous­ing in well-balanced way

Coventry Telegraph - - YOUR VIEWS -

SAN­DRA Camwell, yet again, ex­presses her per­sonal dis­like for house build­ing plans on the green­belt. This is de­spite the big growth in the city’s pop­u­la­tion – up from 300,000 in 2006 to 352,900 in 2016. The po­lit­i­cally neu­tral Of­fice of Na­tional Sta­tis­tics makes reg­u­lar fore­casts of fu­ture growth of the city’s pop­u­la­tion. By 2031, the ONS ex­pects, with caveats, the city to have 414,000 in 2031. In ad­di­tion, there is a back­log of some 20,000 peo­ple look­ing for homes in the city. Ms Camwell feels that this pro­jec­tion is flawed. She points to such fac­tors as Brexit, ris­ing in­ter­est rates or po­ten­tial con­ges­tion as be­ing pos­si­ble fac­tors that may re­duce the city’s growth – they could also lead to the pop­u­la­tion grow­ing even faster. How­ever, she can­not make a se­ri­ous ro­bust fore­cast. It would ap­pear that she wants plan­ners to de­velop the Lo­cal Plan on sup­po­si­tions rather than best avail­able es­ti­mates. She ex­presses dis­like of the high den­si­ties for new hous­ing – but this is to save green­belt land given that the city is run­ning out of brown­field land.

She knows well that it would be a dan­ger­ous step as it would lead to a po­ten­tial wors­en­ing of the hous­ing short­age. It would lead to more ad hoc devel­op­ments which could add to ur­ban sprawl and con­ges­tion.

The new plan map, as shown in the Tele­graph (Nov 5) al­lows for green open space and recog­nises the health ben­e­fits that they gen­er­ate. Coven­try ben­e­fits from hav­ing an above-aver­age green space, es­pe­cially in Bablake ward.

If the city’s pop­u­la­tion does not rise in line with the pro­jec­tions, new houses will not be built. The pri­vate sec­tor would go else­where to build. Pri­or­ity is to build on brown­field land but many sites are oc­cu­pied by suc­cess­ful busi­nesses un­able to move given the short­age of em­ploy­ment land.

I be­lieve what Ms Camwell should say is she does not want new hous­ing in ‘my back­yard.’ That would be far more hon­est. It would be bet­ter if she could pro­vide hard ev­i­dence for her views, rather than den­i­grate the of­fi­cials, wher­ever they live, who are charged to en­sure the city grows in a well bal­ance way. That is cheap pol­i­tick­ing and we have had enough of that. Myles Mackie Earls­don

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