The following formed part of my objection to the planned demolition of South Drive. It was received by the council on 25th February:
“There is nowhere in the county quite like South Drive: a 1936 colonial-style Air Ministry development of mellow red brick, garden bays and sash windows,retaining its original road-layout and situated on chalk downland in an area of outstanding natural beauty. South Drive houses are among the oldest surviving parts of this former airbase.
No.8 South Drive, Sir John Cockroft s former residence, should be considered historically important in relation to the development of the site. The bomber station’s first CO decreed that the station should take the name of whichever parish his house was situated in: thus it was that RAF Harwell is what the UKAEA inherited in 1946, rather than RAF Chilton.”
I was not the only North Drive objector to raise the heritage value of South Drive as a reason to not destroy it. Yet here is the planning officer’s summary of our neighbourhood objections:
“3.3 Representations from local residents
– A total of 13 representations had been received at the time of writing this report, of which 11 object and 2 consider that there is not enough information submitted. The objections made are on the grounds of the following concerns:
•Loss of landscape setting and open character of the site
•Increased traffic generation and appropriate parking
•Adverse impact on wildlife, particularly bats
•Impact of construction on routes to the site
•Loss of privacy and of existing residential amenity ”
So when, in Section 6.20, Heritage Assets, we are told:
” The proposal has no heritage assets within the site or within the surrounding area. The submission has not identified any heritage asset that is identifiable in the local area that would be subject to any adverse impact from this proposal. ”
… it is as if no-one had any other view.
Having scanned through the 46 page document, a few things jumped out which I’ll detail below and in the next post. Go through it yourself and see if you feel your objections were summarised adequately by the planning office. My substantive factual comments on the heritage of the site have been airbrushed out of the report entirely. More on that in a moment. First though, here’s the context in which the “need” for this extra housing has been generated :
“6.2 The current lack of a five year supply of housing
sites in the district is due to the lack of delivery of new housing by developers rather than an under-supply of allocated housing land. This has primarily been caused by delays in progressing some major allocations due to the economic downturn and the delay in bringing forward the council’s new local plan. The current lack of a five year housing land supply justifies some flexibility in line with the NPPF in the consideration of planning applications which do not accord with local plan policy.“
Oh I see. Reality gets in the way of the 5 Year Plan so we must sacrifice a well-loved part of our locality to pay for the council’s duff projection. In the parallel universe of local bureaucracy, neighbourhood interests are mere trifles compared with the bother of amending The Plan.
“6.4 It is clear the application is contrary to local plan policy GS2. However, whilst the council does not have a five year housing land supply, policy GS2 is inconsistent with the framework. The proposed development, therefore, needs to be considered on its site specific merits and whether it constitutes a sustainable form of development as defined in the NPPF. ”
Inconvenient planning rule not to your liking sir? Chuck it away and make a new one!
Will our elected representatives help? Remember the 2010 election campaign of Mr. Ed Vaizey, promising “…local people a say in how many, and where local homes are needed…”? Well, pre-election localism seems to have morphed into the NPPF post-election, with its notorious presumption in favour of “sustainable development”. Use of the magic word “sustainable” gives ministers special permission to misrepresent and insult the people they were elected to serve.