I went to the meeting at Upton Memorial hall last night. It was a very good meeting hosted by the planners from Worcester and Malvern Hills.
After the initial ‘‘Death by Powerpoint’’ presentation, the discussion was deep and of a high quality. There is a strong push for most Parish Councils to respond, if they can quote their ‘Parish Plan’ that would be helpful. However many Parish Councils will not meet before the deadline, therefore everyone is urged to respond as individuals ASAP.
I have more copies of the questionnaire and issues document.
My personal view is: -
Horror at the thought of spec’ builders covering green field sites with tacky budget homes at 17 to the acre. Look at the examples we already have. The legacy of our housing is dire. From ‘Fruitlands’ to ‘St Peters’ we have sacrificed green fields to the predations of philistine spec builders who cover the land with uniform unimaginative dwellings. I have considerable trepidation that the green belt will be sacrificed, and a deep concern over the current practice of ‘garden harvesting’ as part of the infill strategy. Worcester planners seemed to be quite pleased with the Warndon Villages.
(I leave you to make your mind up there!).
Nevertheless I do acknowledge that we need more houses at prices that are affordable and that this area should accept it’s share. The problem would be mitigated if we could build better and more sensitively but we do not.
My suggested solution:-
Some sensitive development in all locations, but with care and due respect to local consultation. Redevelop some of the worst suburbs in the towns and redress some of the past mistakes. Indeed some small villages may well need a degree of development to preserve a degree of viability and prevent them becoming dormitories for the retired rich.
At all costs preserve the green belts and as much green land as possible. The green belts are vital for the quality of life. In the future the green fields may well be needed to grow food, despite the current policy to import food from the cheapest source.
Take up the challenge to build new eco towns and concentrate most of the new building on the ‘semi’ brown field sites at Defford Aerodrome and Pershore Aerodrome (Throckmorton). These sites are well served by road and rail, well away from anything else.
From the start you could integrate a sustainable infrastructure into the site. Incorporate innovative ideas such as geothermal harvesting under the drains and roads, use combined heat and power generation from waste. Orientate and plan innovative new buildings to best solar advantage, landcape the site with favourable microclimates. With vision and imagination we could build something rather wonderful. Not just cheap spec built houses that all use the same ‘book plan’ with an eye to profit and the economies of scale.
The design skills used to support such a ‘state of the art’ project could stimulate an emerging industry in sustainable innovation. This in turn, could be one of the ‘primary’ industries that would dovetail into the technology corridor. It could help provide employment for the growing population. Generate the wealth that will build for status and quality, rather than price.
To stimulate originality and help support the agenda, the authorities could initiate ‘design awards’, and promote a planning policy that encouraged ‘difference and individuality’ and inspire an interest in the quality of the built environment. After all we must leave behind something truly worthwhile for our future generations not just more and more mediocre urban sprawl.