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Stop Easton Park

LETTER TO LEADER OF UDC

By Stop Easton Park
Thursday, August 22, 2019

22.08.19 Letter to Cllr John Lodge, copied to all councillors

Dear John

Further to my email below of 21 June to all Councillors in which I encouraged you to accept the Inspectors’ invitation to withdraw the Local Plan prior to the July Hearings, I now write to encourage you to seek fresh, independent legal advice before engaging with the Inspectors following the Hearings.

The fundamental flaws of the Plan inherited from the previous administration, to which I referred in my email below, were amply demonstrated during the Hearings by multiple parties, notably the submission of the Plan prior to completion of the consultation on the Revised Sustainability Appraisal; the shortcomings of the Call for Sites process; the restriction of options resulting from the threshold of 5,000; the lack of analysis as to the suitability of the three sites selected for new towns; queries relating to the figure of 14,000 for new dwellings in the Plan period, indicating a 40% increase of population over 15 years; delivery risks arising from the heavy reliance on the new towns in the later years of the Plan; the lack of provision for smaller communities, Type A & B Villages; the failure to look ahead to the probable availability to Carver Barracks; the shortcomings of infrastructure analysis and provision; the squandering of heritage assets etc, etc.

We, the electorate, understand the obligations placed on the Council by central government but look to you, our Council, to come up with a Plan that is suitable and sensible, and which reflects the needs and characteristics of our district. The current Plan does not satisfy these requirements. Creating three new towns in a rural area with limited infrastructure and employment will only result in importing commuters onto an inadequate infrastructure whilst failing to address the need for affordable housing in our smaller communities.

The counter arguments provided during the Hearings by the lawyers representing UDC did not address the fundamental questions arising from the Plan. They have been too closely involved with the formation of the current Plan to be independent. Hence, I believe that UDC should engage new and independent legal advisors before engaging with the Inspectors.

The reasons given for not withdrawing the Plan prior to the Hearings were not persuasive. The fixation of the previous administration on garden communities has left the Council with a Plan that is neither sustainable nor deliverable and which would unnecessarily destroy three areas of great beauty. This needs to be recognised before more money is wasted. The escalation of costs through six days of Hearings with some 100 people attending representing some 30 organisations, QCs, barristers, multiple consultants etc. was alarming. The longer the Council delays addressing the fundamental flaws of the Plan, the greater the waste of money.

I look forward to your response.
Kind regards
On behalf of Stop Easton Park
Vincent Thompson

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