Let Local People Say How Local Areas Should Develop

Posted on: 15th January 2014

Localism a word said very easily but Government, just like a loving parent, can find it hard to let go.

Many will be alarmed, that as their local representative, I voted in favour of 47,500 homes for Cornwall in the period 2010 to 2030. As that period has already started and some homes are already built or have planning consent, it means just over 1,200 each year from now until 2030.

The process I would prefer is that the people of St Just and Pendeen worked with me and the local Town Council and decided what our housing needs are now and what they might be, in the furture. Now the future is tough to guess.

In 2030, I will be 72 and my husband older. I don’t know what out health will be but I doubt very much our current home will be suitable for us. Like many of our older people today, I hope to have a nice home that will be suitable for me to live in, independently, for as long as possible. Do we have enough suitable homes for all who want to keep their independence into old age?

I have 2 children. Both are grown up and one lives in Cornwall. I do not know what their situation will be? Will they be married, will they have children? What will their housing needs be? Will they want to be near us in Cornwall or will we end up moving away to where they are?

My dad, now 86, lives with me. In 17 years time, it may be highly likely that he will have passed away BUT many more people are living to be over 100. If my dad achieves that, will I still be able to support him or what will his housing needs be?

Why am I giving all these personal facts? I am trying to say, that between now and 2030, I do not know what my own family’s housing needs will be, let alone what the population of Cornwall will need! So all the numbers around are some-one elses best guess.

47,500, is based on the Office of National Statistics predictions of population growth and many will say they always over estimate. That is why Cornwall Council has chosen the lowest estimates – the highest say we will need 71,000 homes by 2030! A group of Conservative Councillors put forward a suggestion that we go for 33,000 homes in the plan. Some people wanted me to vote for that figure and I could have made life easy for myself and done so. But getting elected does not always mean taking the easy, popular decision.

What would putting 33,000 homes in the plan mean? Take off the homes built and those already with planning consent and this would mean that for the whole of Cornwall, between now and 2030, 6,000 homes which is 353 each year! During the debate, the Conservative group indicated that during the consultation period, before sending the plan to Government, it maybe necessary to adjust the figure up and possible final totals of 36,000 or 38,000 were mentioned. So, by the end of the debate it was unclear what the total figure in this proposal was. The number had no evidence to support it.

The Government, like it or not, are setting the rules of the current housing game and they say that they will only accept robust and defendable figures that are based on Office of National Statistics information unless an area has an acceptable and robust alternative. In Cornwall, although arguments have raged over the number of homes needed no good data that could be put to Government has been collected for Cornwall. All we have is that almost 30,000 people have registered on the County’s Homechoices register to say they need a home or a better, more suitable home, in Cornwall. They want a suitable home today!

I hope that gives a little understanding of the struggles, in my head, when voting on the housing numbers at Full Council yesterday. I took the view that a plan was better than no plan for Cornwall and that the quickest route to a plan would be to put the lowest number the Government might be convinced of. On the day, I was persuaded that 47,500 was that figure. I hope that the people of St Just and Pendeen will accept that their world will not come to an end if each year, between 2014 and 2030 it takes a share of 23 homes being given planning permissions each year.

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