STROUD has been dogged by planning rows for decades. This time however it’s personal, and depressingly predictable.
In one corner you have Stroud MP Neil Carmichael blaming the Labour-led District Council for not putting in place a local plan. And in the other you have the rest blaming the Coalitions ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ for being ‘A Licence to Develop’.
As for the rest of us, we just get ever more depressed as our beloved fields are sacrificed for another identikit housing project.
And this is where the planning debate bamboozles me.
As far as I can tell Carmichael, Drew, Wheeler, Pickering and the rest agree that our green spaces should be, if at all possible, protected. And if they must be sacrificed for housing, they all to want to build thriving communities of high quality attractive housing. And yet when I look at the proposals for Rodborough Fields, Summer Street or Mankley Fields, that’s not what I see.
Where are the community centres? pubs? shops? The essential ingredients of any ‘thriving’ community.
The reason prices are so high in places like Rodborough, Uplands and Old Stroud is because these are thriving communities with places where people can come together and be a community.
A community isn’t a collection of houses around a cul-de-sac. They don’t happen by accident. But we all know that right? So why on earth are we even considering housing proposals which none of us would want to live in?
The developers will tell you we can’t afford to include ‘community infrastructure’ but when the average cost of building a semi-detached house is less than £100,000 and the sale value well in excess of £200,000 I beg to differ.
If there is one part of the UK economy where there is plenty of cash it is housing. How come they can afford to build beautiful modern terraces in Painswick but not Stroud? It is a question of political will and double standards.
The councillors and people of Painswick and Bisely would never stand for the quality of developments that are being forced on to us in Stroud. And neither should we.
As the people of Summer Street, Rodborough and Leonard Stanley fight to save our natural heritage all our politicians can do is blame one another for the unfolding tragedy.
Instead of bickering amongst themselves our politicians need to unite behind their shared desire to protect our natural heritage and build beautiful communities we all want to live.
Anything else discredits them as local leaders and leaves Stroud open to the mercy of the merciless developers.