Welcome Longstantoners! This is where I have put a shedload of information you might be interested in. Here is my letter, expanding on what I said in the flyer.
Please, please send a message to the people on the email list below, asking them to use their influence to support the self build and pavilion. A few quick ideas on what to write are, for example:
“Please support the Mills Lane application for self-build and sports facilities. . . . .
. . . I really hope I shall be one of the people to build my own house there.”
. . . We are desperate for a new pavilion. My daughter . . . . . .
. . . Here we are offered £180,000 on a plate. What are doing turning it down?”
. . . Our new pavilion is far more important than a field that will become just a pony paddock.”
. . . Think what it could do for school sports.”
. . . We love trees too. Lets have more around the sports field. At least we will be able to use it properly.”
Here is the list of people:
|Stephen Hills, Director of Housingemail@example.com|
|Tim Wotherspoon, chairman, Planning Ctteefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Alex Riley, your district email@example.com|
|Laurence Castle, consultant i/c firstname.lastname@example.org|
|David Thompson, planning email@example.com|
|John Street, chairman of the PC||not known. Please enquire locally.|
|Other members of the PC||not known. Please enquire locally.|
|Please also copy to me:||AndrewRT@ResoluteEstates.co.uk|
Your local MP is Heidi Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org but she knows nothing of what is going on at SCambs, so if you write to her too, I suggest you ask her only whether she can help in any way. It is not part of her job to interfere with local government but she might just know one or two influential people who may help us - for example, people at the Ministry.
Please also copy to other members of the planning committee:
The letter: Andrew Taylor to Longstanton residents
Thank you for coming this far to read this letter. I do not expect everyone to agree with my application. Despite social media knowing everything about us, we still live in what is probably the most free democracy in the World. Even if you disagree, I am happy to talk to you.
I have taken the trouble to enlist your support because I believe the benefit to you and your children of a small paddock is far outweighed by the benefit of nine self-build plots where people can create their home for 25 years, not be looking to move on after five years as most of us do now.
First point: the planning officer told me five weeks ago that he was about to issue a refusal notice. As I write, I have not yet received it, but may have it by the time you receive this. The reference on SCambs website is S/2482/16/Ol. I am writing all this with a view to your influencing the Inspector who hears my appeal - and just possibly to influence SCambs to accept that your Pavilion and self-build homes are actually more important than what will become a tacky pony paddock if left as it is.
The government has become almost manic in its support for self-build. I have been very excited too, because I am also a dedicated fan. My enthusiasm is end to end; that is, from three families who get together to produce a single building with their own hands to the tiny proportion of us who are able to order something amazing from Germany. Best of all, the self-build concept produces amazing designs. Northstowe will not produce a single listed building. What gets built at Mills Lane might. So even those in your community who care most about our historic heritage should consider that what we build today is what we leave for our great grandchildren tomorrow.
I want to just mention too that I am not some awful mega-developer. I am the only person who has an interest in my company (apart from my bank manager!). Of course I am in business. Of course I want to make a profit. But I am also a father of four grown up children, whom I have taught to handle worms and millipedes, grow vegetables and understand why the barn owl follows the ditch line on a winter’s afternoon.
The story of the last 15 months is very long. It is all there in the documents listed above. I have written the numbered reports. I must confess I was amazed and horrified at some of the shenanigans that went on at SCambs Hall after 2004 when Northstowe was first proposed. The tactics were not what we would expect from a UK governmental organisation - and neither is the strategy they have used for many years to calculate the important “five year supply” of housing. Bluntly, it is banana republic stuff. You need to read my report 04 for the full story.
Another element I find hard to swallow is that the powerful local campaign to keep Northstowe at a suitable distance should have resulted in all you people now being very happy with the outcome - or very unhappy with SCambs. All the early Northstowe documents emphasise the importance of creating a green gap between Longstanton and the new town. SCambs has had twelve years - enough time to plan and build a Boris airport in the Thames Estuary - to make Northstowe work. They have also been working with governmental land owners who we expect would be reasonable in every way. So have they created the green gap they told about?
Of course they have. The only problem is that now they say it was not enough. If not enough, why not? Why, oh why, did they not allocate more green space if that was what they wanted? So did they make a bog-up first time around or will the massive tree planting now proposed be enough?
Another possibility is that they simply assumed that the private agricultural land to the East of Longstanton could be treated as part of the green gap. They could have done that. They could have arranged for the land to be sold to the Communities Agency or they could have designated that the land should be protected in some way by registration we would all have known about.
I have found a interesting record of how badly SCambs treated the responses to the consultations about the enlargement of the CA. Remember this is an internal document from a time when such matters were not easily accessible to the general public. The appendix is the bit to read. It is:
Cabinet meeting agenda: 8 September 2005
Agenda item 7: Report: to "Leader and Cabinet" from "Development Services Director" - and appendix - "Responses to consultations on Conservation Area Appraisal"
It seems to have disappeared from their website since I published an extract, but you could obtain a copy by asking for it to be produced from the archives. If you like say it is a freedom of information request. Just read what the Council’s comments are.
Northstowe is still changing. In this confusion, a large chunk of land over the garden wall of The Manor, was sold last year for £2,800,000, to the Homes and Communities Agency - the master land owners of Northstowe. I have no idea who sold it. There are no restrictions mentioned in the sale transfer document as to what the buyer can do with it. It is all beginning to look like one of Baldrick’s “cunning plans”.
The bottom line is that my small site is stuck like a pawn on an empty chess board. There is no lawful reason why it should not be developed. Now - about the new Sports Pavilion. I understand, but may be wrong, that you have plans drawn up for a great new facility. I believe it can be funded in part by the demolition of the old Institute building but the rest will come from who knows where.
I have offered to chip in £180k, plot sale, by plot sale (12 months?). I have no idea what is the total budgeted cost. But there is a problem in that the Institute cannot be demolished until a replacement meeting room - the Pavilion - is in place. I cannot help with that but I am positive that the money could be borrowed to cover what you cannot raise locally. What you need to do is to divert the energy of the local heavyweights into raising money instead of preserving my paddock.
I mentioned in the flyer the strange question of the decision to refuse. The planning officer, David Thompson, told me that Cllr Riley had given him delegated authority to decide the application and that he David T, had decided to refuse it. That is all. Done deal. I assume Cllr Riley himself had the delegated authority from the Planning Committee to do that. However, a scheme of nine houses which is extremely controversial and likely to be appealed, does not strike me as a first choice to delegate to a planning officer who joined his professional association only a couple of years or so ago. What do you think?
The effect of course, is that I am not able to present my case to the committee members in writing, nor to address them on the day. It also means that the decision is that of a single officer and not of the committee. Of course, it rules out the possibility that the committee might have thought my proposal was a jolly good idea. Maybe I just imagine a conspiracy around every corner. What do you think? If you have any comment or information on this do please tell me. If you agree with me that democracy has somehow been kicked aside, you might write to Tim Wotherspoon about this too.
You are probably getting bored by now, so my last word is a gentle request.
I need information about Cllr Riley’s campaign in 2005 to enlarge the conservation area. A leaflet was produced. Does anyone by any chance have a copy? If you remember the campaign, would you be prepared to tell me all about it. What happened and who else lead it?
I am trying to earn a living, not sitting around, but please do ask me any questions you like - relevant to this subject of course. I am email@example.com
Don’t forget the email messages! Thanks.