Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 4 June 2009


The next few weeks will settle the future of the new community intended for Sherford to the east of Plymouth. In mid-July councillors from the South Hams and Plymouth will be asked to vote on whether or not the developers, Redtree, should be granted detailed planning permission. You probably thought this was already settled, but not so. Since a decision to grant planning permission was granted in principle over 12 months ago the economy has come crashing down and house prices have collapsed leaving the economics of this scheme in tatters. If you were doing your sums on the basis that your average house sale of your 4000 new houses was £200,000 but now it is only £140,000 (my estimated figures) you have got serious problems to solve!

For the last 9 months at least the developers have been negotiating with the planners from both councils (and Devon Council in respect of Highway matters) to see what changes could be made to the original proposals to make them still deliverable in a rapidly changing environment. The numbers of affordable houses, the provision of community facilities and the phasing of certain essential works, including road structures have all been fiercely contested. These complex negotiations remain ongoing and will probably go to the wire.

What our elected councillors will have to decide in July is whether they should grant planning permission to a scheme which may therefore be radically different to the one which was so carefully worked up over several years and found widespread, although not unanimous, public support.

I have been chairing for these past 3 years a meeting of all of the community groups affected by these new town proposals from Plymstock, Brixton and Plympton. We are unanimous and have been consistent in our view that we would rather that Sherford did not happen at all or is delayed for several years than for it to happen badly. We do not want a repeat of some of the cheapskate development on the fringes of Plymouth in recent decades. We want the original quality or nothing.

We need the affordable houses for the next generation, but not at any price.

So our message to the planners is clear: if the revised plans are not materially different from that we have helped to shape, fine, let us proceed. But if the revised proposals do not come up to scratch, throw them out and you will have public support.

posted by Gary @ 18:55