2 responses from Mr Michael Lewis (Individual)
1. Mr Michael Lewis (Individual) : 10 Jun 2008 16:34:00
A typed or handwritten document was submitted. This has been scanned and can be downloaded below:
2. Mr Michael Lewis (Individual) : 7 Jul 2008 15:26:00
Please write your comment or explain your reasons for supporting or opposing this part of the Report. You may also wish to refer to the tests of soundess in the glossary of the Preferred Options document before making your comments.
RE Preliminary comments on plans which may impact QES rugby pitch prior to start of consultation period
Thanks for providing this email address so I could register my preliminary concerns regarding any plans for affordable housing which may affect the QES Rugby pitch prior to the start of the consultation period. Naturally, subject to the contents of the consultation document, I shall submit more detailed comments once the consultation document is published.
I was not aware of last Mondays (7th April) public meeting at Kirkby Institute discussing the requirements for 350 affordable homes so could not attend. Most of the information on which I base the following comments is based on discussion with people who did attend and reports in the Westmoreland Gazette. My understanding is that one of the plans which may be included in the consultation document is for development of affordable housing west of the A65, there was also some mention of rerouting the A65 to provide access although I assume the costs would be prohibitive.
My main concern would be over any development plans which would impact the QES Rugby pitch located on the Low Biggins side of the A65. The rugby pitch is an essential facility for the school in a town that has a proud rugby heritage, only last summer that the head of QES was announcing his plans to become a rugby academy, which could prove difficult without a decent pitch. What kind of logic could reconcile sacrificing the only rugby pitch of an over subscribed school with building 350 new houses that will generate demand for perhaps a further 500 school places. What is surprising is that when I contacted the QES head to gauge his reaction to the proposals he advised that he was not aware of any plans affecting the pitch and that no one had approached him to discuss the issue. After talking to me he was obviously concerned that there may be a threat to the pitch "saying it is the only decent pitch we have", and advised he would ensure some representation from the school at any further planning meetings.
It would be a scandal if the QES school lost their rugby pitch, I know how much the rugby pitch is used, our house backs onto it. On occasions when I am working from home we see and hear kids playing rugby or football on it every day through the winter and rounders in the summer. I can't deny I would be devastated to see the spectacular views of Ingleborough and the local hills visible from the back of our house replaced by a forest of cheap housing but the really galling thing would be the fact that there are alternative, better locations within the town adjacent to areas where some affordable housing has already been built where improved access associated with such a development could lead to a reduction in traffic through the town centre which would benefit to the whole community.
We have just received planning permission to renovate and extend our property with work is due to commence in a couple of weeks, this will represent a significant expenditure on our part which we are prepared to pay as this is the home in which we wish to retire. We employed an architect to help achieve conformance to local planning and get the detailed design right yet it appears these rules may be thrown out of the window to accommodate the developers of this new housing. The A65 is a clear boundary marking the edge of the town of Kirkby Lonsdale and start of open countryside with hamlets including Low and High Biggins developers would never normally be allowed to put new properties on this side of the A65. This area is highly visible from the A65 in fact our property is within an Area of Special Advertisement Control what sort of advert would a development of low cost housing be along the A65 for a town which relies on tourism as its primary income. You just need to drive along the A65 at Ingleton to see how these close packed developments change the whole character of the area.
am in regular correspondence with our MP Tim Farron discussing local housing issues and he knows that I support the principle of affordable housing but it should be in proportion to the needs of the local community and located in areas where it does not detract from the character of the local town. The housing market has started a correction which I believe will see prices fall by around 40% over the next five years, now is the worst possible time for councils to be pushing first time buyers into the housing market with tempting offers of shared ownership and long term low rents. It is also probably not a coincidence that the council is being pressured by developers to invest in new housing at a time many are laying off building staff due to lack of work. The building industry has lived off the fat of the bloated housing market for the past decade pumping public funds into the sector will only delay the inevitable reduction in capacity down to more sustainable long term levels.
The restrictions the developers place on the properties will always result in the affordable properties selling at a discount to the wider market, with falling prices this means that those in our community who can least afford it will lose money when they try and move. If SLDC were serious about freeing up housing stock they would target owners of second properties with a doubling of council tax the second property and tripling of tax on the third. It is likely that the housing market will become awash with second homes in the next few months as investors attempt to sell and cash in their profits, taking advantage of recent changes in CGT rules before the crash.
Current targets for affordable housing were set before the current housing slump, the picture will be much different in a couple of years time. While the policy and need for an affordable housing policy may be transient the consequences of any decision to build on the QES rugby pitch will affect the lives of our children for decades to come. It is my understanding that Council policy that affordable housing developments should be undertaken with the support of the local community, how can building on the school rugby pitch be compatible with this objective? , there are obviously less controversial alternatives available including the expansion of existing affordable housing developments. It is likely that developers would have a preference for green field sites particularly with fantastic views as it would make the properties easier to sell but it should be the local community represented by the planners who decide priorities based on local need rather than developers greed.
hope these preliminary concerns will be registered by SLDC and contribute to the rejection of any plans that would affect the QES rugby pitch and open fields on this side of the A65. Affordable housing should only be built to meet the needs of the local community, in the right locations, with a long term strategy for how local services maybe expanded, rather than diminished, to cope with the increased demands from residents in the new housing.