ADVEARSE is grateful for the opportunity to respond to this further consultation. As we have stated to the Council before the decision to confine comments to changes to the plan is flawed and undemocratic.
Over the past year we have attended many meetings and been contacted by many people. Many people in Bridport including Town Councillors who made the point on record at a public meeting believe that the initial consultation was a charade. Bridport feels that it was not fully consulted about the original proposals.
We would urge you to accept comments which are wider than those based on the changes. We therefore ask that you confirm that this submission has been accepted.
COMMENTS ON THE STRATEGIC HOUSING MARKET REPORT BY PETER BRETT
After the dire performance of your previous consultant at the Inspectors initial hearing we are not surprised that you brought in a different set of consultants. They are building on previous work and it is revealing to note that many of these were found to be inadequate. There are so many variables which can change we have little faith in the revised figure of 775.
This is a thorough document, with on the surface of it, an impressive set of statistics. It certainly tries to challenge previous assumptions. At the end of the day it is however only producing policy driven evidence. We see no evidence in your revised submission to the Inspector that you have used both the Brett report and the delay in the Inspector’s consideration to revisit the fundamentals of the WDDC policy regarding the construction of this plan.
We note that the report states that (within constraints) Local Authorities can now set their own targets. Where is the evidence that you have actually engaged with this opportunity with for example the Bridport Town Council?
The fact the report covers the wider area including Weymouth and Portland is encouraging in that the housing demand can be seen in a wider context and spread where it is actually needed.
The report does however show a number of factors which would question the numbers proposed for housing. Firstly the impact of migration – By our own experience we know that if you build houses in West Dorset people from outside will buy them. That does not however mean that these were actually needed. It certainly will not fulfil the requirement to meet LOCAL housing need. Secondly – the completion figures are consistently below target. (6.26)
Finally the report is focussed on housing, population, creation of households. It cannot be criticised for that since it is a report on Housing Market need. However, these issues need to be fed into all the other factors – employment, environment; transport…WDDC has never adequately addressed these. Other Local Authorities such as the South Hams have chosen to be more robust in taking all these factors into account. As a result the character of the area is being preserved from the ravages of over development.
CHAPTER 3 – SUSTAINABLE PATTERN OF DEVELOPMENT ONLY
Having listened to the Inspectors criticisms of the Plan we are surprised that the changes you propose are so minimal.
In what way is this ‘sustainable pattern of development’?
As indicated in the last section we do not see how you can justify the increased figure of 775 other than an attempt to mollify the Inspector.
FPC3 – where will these jobs actually come from? If you are accepting a more modest target for job growth who will actually buy the houses? In what way will this distorted housing market create a balanced demographic?
FPC5 / FPC6 /FPC7 – Tinkering with the figures is largely irrelevant.
Where is the analysis of affordable? The real need for housing exists on the housing lists – affordable housing for local people. Nationally there are many examples where builders are avoiding their obligations to provide affordable housing. Where is there any discussion of this critical issue in your consultations?
As Peter Brett’s report shows predictions of future growth be it population, housing need and the like are always imprecise and theoretical. Unfortunately they translate into specific proposals. In the case of West Dorset they are used to justify a massive development at Vearse Farm
WDDC has failed to take the opportunity of the delay to rethink the flawed Local Plan. For Bridport the plan proposes a development of a massive scale on a site which has many problems not least the impact of flooding and traffic management. Do we really wish to see the creeping suburbanisation of East Dorset here?
The Plan remains unsound on many levels. The veneer of statistical objectivity which has been used to tinker with the housing projections leaves the Plan as a whole inadequate for the future of West Dorset. The people have a right to expect more from those charged with taking a long term view.