Planners embroiled in new Ulverston houses furore
Last updated at 16:31, Wednesday, 09 October 2013
OFFICIALS have been criticised for failing to engage the public before listing a popular Ulverston green space as a potential site for new housing.
Speaking at a meeting of Ulverston Town Council, resident Linda White said there had been shortcomings in the consultation carried out by South Lakeland District Council.
Modifications to the plans included the controversial listing of fields near Mowing’s Lane as a potential site for 44 new homes.
Mrs White, of Mowing’s Lane, said not enough was done to engage with local residents before the proposal was sent to an independent planning inspector for review.
She argued that problems with the district council’s website left residents unable to get all the necessary information.
She said: “The website was down for long periods because it was being upgraded. Why was an upgrade done at such an important stage in the consultation?
“People were also deterred from looking online as many of the documents are in very small print and difficult to find.
“There are also many errors which suggests very little research has been done.”
Mrs White also called into question the timing of the consultation, which was held during the summer holidays, meaning some residents could not participate. She added: “I suggest this was done deliberately so that public involvement would be minimal.”
A spokesman for SLDC said: “The main modifications were the subject of a six week consultation between July and September 2013.
“This, and all other consultations about land allocations, have been carried out in line with procedures.”
The area in question lies next to a plot of land where Persimmon Homes are already building 26 houses.
Both Ulverston Town Council and the campaign group Keep Ulverston Special have previously raised concerns that any further development of the area would lead to flooding and traffic congestion.
SLDC estimates that the district needs 6,000 additional homes. Of these, 1,700 are planned for Ulverston.
First published at 16:04, Wednesday, 09 October 2013
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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There are two issues of extreme concern to me here. The first, which concerns this specific site, is that it would be a desperately bad idea to build houses on an area which would destroy an important green space in Ulverston and also add to the already high flooding risk which residents of Ulverston already experience whenever there is heavy rain. Concrete over yet more higher land and the levels of flooding will increase exponentially. There are residents in South Ulverston who already always have to bail out their cellars when it rains. And it does rain, in Cumbria, as we have noticed.Secondly, however, this seems to me symptomatic of a systematic failure of SLDC to act in favour of communities and not as the puppet of corporations. We understand that in this day and age local authorities have a difficult time and are often running scared - they have had their money cut, and they are constantly looking over their shoulder at the potential for challenge and criticism which they may fear from Big Business. But they are there as an elected body to listen to and respond to the views of people and to look after their interests. If they don't do that, what are they for? The fact that this consultation has been as poorly publicised as it has been, the fact that it was so difficult to find, that it was impossible to work out when you got there, that the website was down - this is lamentable behaviour from a Council who is meant to be curating this region and looking after the interest of those of us who live there. It feels as if we are battling against our local authority, not working with it, and that is wrong.
I have seen the response that SLDC officials have made to criticisms of their procedure. They are irrational and attempt to prove that black is white and expect us to believe them.As a local resident, living in Union Lane who is very concerned about my surroundings I would have been oblivious of this consultation had it not been for the action of one person - Lynda White. My belief was that the land in question was seen by the council as very unlikely for housing development because of its location.Through her alertness, people in the surrounding area were quickly advised that this new consultation was taking place. An unknown person quickly circulated detailed by hand, information to all the houses in the immediate area. This resulted in a flurry of activity to express their opinions as quickly as possible before the fast approaching deadline.What is particularly galling, is the defense put forward by SLDC that their consulation was sound. "Look we obviously communicated with the public efficiently : look at the 50 detailed responses we achieved". Could not the headline in the Evening Mail in reaction to Mrs White's initiative not had someting to do with the urgency of the views expressed? How many responses did the SLDC receive before this Mail article and the circulation of information done by a local resident? One is tempted to conclude that some inappropriate pressure is being exerted in order to allow building to take place on a totally inappropriate site which has no access other than from steep ice prone roads and from junctions already overloaded with traffic relying on the very narrow Mill St access to this part of town.
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