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, 24 June 2010

Many people ask me about the new town of 4,500 houses at Sherford starting at the Plympton turning off the A38 and stretching down to the A379 at Stanborough Cross. What is happening, you say?
Plymouth council gave the planning go-ahead many months ago for the area within the city boundary. South Hams last year gave the thumbs up in principle and heavy negotiations started in earnest with the developer (Red Tree) on issues of major concern. For all of this time they have been arguing over the size of the contribution the developer must make to the infrastructure costs (roads, schools etc) (mega-millions), how many affordable houses must be built and which parts they have to do first.
Those negotiations have still not been completed; leading me to the conclusion that this new town may never rise from the earth. The difficulties that the recession injected into this project – plummeting house prices and difficulties of getting bank finance - have now been joined by new uncertainties. The crack down on public spending may threaten the £8 million funding that a government agency was going to pump in to make the affordable housing numbers stack up. The £90 million major road scheme bid to help solve the complex transport problems must also be considered at risk.
My encouragement to the South Hams Council has been: don't allow this development to be done on the cheap. Better if it is delayed by several years, or never happened at all, than happened badly. So I commend the officers and councillors for sticking to their guns and insisting on minimum standards. But the excessive delay now leads us into the realm of unintended consequences.
If Sherford does not come to pass, the council will fall well short of delivering the number of new houses it has pledged in its local development framework to build. If that happens there are a number of aggressive developers who have ear-marked other potential sites on the Plymouth fringe that might be suitable for new housing. It would not be a surprise in the next 12 months to see pre-emptive planning applications made for some of these sites, which could succeed on appeal, because the existing plan has not been met. This would condemn us to the future development of this area in a piece-meal, unstructured fashion, something we have been guilty of in the past. Tricky decisions for local councillors lay ahead.

posted by Gary @ 15:00