4:35pm Monday 29th April 2013
WITH reference to the letter ‘Is Green Belt plan really necessary?’, all the evidence and the National Planning Policy Framework show the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. Knutsford and towns like it only exist because of ‘development’. Richard Harding Watt, who built the Gaskell Tower and much of Legh Road, was commemorated by the Guardian and the Heritage Centre only three weeks ago. Growth will happen because Government policy requires us to provide homes to house ourselves (as we live longer and in smaller households), places to work, shop and play. Done well, this is a huge positive. Key, therefore, is how and where it is done. The numbers quoted seem to be inaccurate, and the Tatton Estate would be happy to fact check information before anything is submitted or published. Suffice to say, however, that the amount of growth needed needs to quantified and justified – it must not be too high or too low. We have proposed much less growth than the evidence suggests necessary: 900 homes on three main sites for a 20-year plan period – ie only 0.8 per cent per annum. No one else so far has come forward with a justification for any other number. If 900 is not thought to be the right amount, what is the correct number to meet local need for homes over the next 20 years and why? If Knutsford was given the same proportion of new houses as the other towns in our borough, that would mean as Mr Webster correctly points out more than1,400 houses.
R Groom’s letter discussed employment and farmland. As Knutsford is almost entirely encircled by Green Belt, the Government has in effect decided some release needs to happen. Therefore it is a question of choosing the most suitable place. The land around the A50 is lower grade farmland, and is therefore the least damaging in this regard. We too are surprised that Parkgate – the only land outside the Green Belt – is no longer proposed as it is a logical site for growth. The Arup report commissioned for the plan by the council suggested 25 per cent be brought forward for employment use and the balance for housing to help fund the infrastructure improvements that the area needs. The recent Town Strategy Consultation showed 65 per cent of people supported development at Parkgate, more than any other location, and this should not be ignored. The work we have done has been published on our website; we have talked our thoughts and ideas through with numerous residents, community groups and people who have expressed an interest, and we continue to do so. The ideas we have developed we passionately believe are more than ‘necessary, justified and appropriate’ – they take this once-in-a-generation chance to have proper planning, not only for homes and jobs, but also for infrastructure (eg public transport), education, medical facilities and much more. We hope that more and more people will make positive suggestions and contributions both to us and the council on how to do this exceptionally well.
HENRY BROOKS The Tatton Estate
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