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Forum topic: The Local Plan Debate Of Missed Opportunities.

The Local Plan Debate Of Missed Opportunities.

Francis Sealey

20 Mar 2024 12:52 #7113

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I was unable to attend the Local Plan Debate on March 19th but did watch some of it online and had a snapshot of what took place. Sadly it seemed a mixture of deflection and delusion with a touch of the theatre of the absurd.

There were moments of humour when one Councillor got up and addressed “this House” rather than “this Chamber:” Perhaps he had delusions of grandeur and imagined himself an MP or gave notice that was his ambition. As soon as he recognised his mistake he corrected himself after a pause for embarrassment and made the same speech as had been made several times before. Another Councillor shouted at the Labour members that this Plan will bite the dust after they are elected at the next Election. Where have we heard this before and from all Parties?

The two major issues that emerged from the political furore were housing and the Green Belt. Labour quite rightly argued that housing was a priority and proudly beat their chests with excitement as they talked about providing affordable housing - so affordable in fact that those living in Edmonton could never afford it.

And the Tories quite rightly championed the Green Belt as they defended England’s green and pleasant land in the West of the Borough where all the Green Belt exists. But in my snapshot viewing there was no mention of the East of the Borough where there are few parks, few trees on the streets and few open spaces.

And it seemed that the East of the Borough was being short-changed with affordable housing that local people could not afford and no plans for new green spaces that foster well-being and act as a cooling dome in times of excessive heat.

But what was glaringly obvious was that the members there were shackled in the chains of their political parties as if there was no reality outside of it. Labour Councillors made the same speech again and again as if they had been programmed in advance whilst the Tories although more individually critical offered no alternative. They seemed to get their pleasure from shouting at each other in an exhibition of sound and fury but signifying little.

And yet there was an alternative and it was there in the gallery of the many who attended and in the rich variety of community groups that exist in the Borough and who had responded to the Local Plan but these were hardly mentioned. The only reality for Councillors was the Labour and Tory caravans.

Groups like Action For Enfield, Enfield Road Watch, Better Homes and Enfield Society had all produced alternative plans and other groups like Enfield Climate Action Fortum, LocalMotion, Edmonton Community Partnership, EREC and 21st K Digital had developed new and innovative ways of engaging communities. But in my short visit to the debate you would never have known.

Councillors are often imprisoned in a time warp where the culture of political parties is the only culture that exists and engaging outside of that independently without wearing a party political uniform is rarely found.
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I did not stay to the end and maybe common sense broke out or more likely it descended further into the chaos of political hubris. I wait to find out

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The Local Plan Debate Of Missed Opportunities.

PGC Webmaster

20 Mar 2024 19:44 #7114

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Enfield Dispatch editor James Cracknell was also watching the debate and has written it up in a report that opens with the words "Tensions were high during a three-hour debate at Enfield Civic Centre as Conservatives slammed plans to build thousands of homes on the Green Belt while Labour councillors blamed government for the housing crisis."

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The Local Plan Debate Of Missed Opportunities.

Karl Brown

21 Mar 2024 09:22 #7115

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Like Francis I watched for a period and felt disappointed that after 6 years work and countless text there was still a huge void in the political grey. The plan covers much which will impact but the headline is undoubtedly housing / green belt.

 My thinking has long gone like this: here’s a new housing target (34000 in this case, an area the Inspector can be expected to review carefully – is it “sound”). There seems agreement that brownfield land should see first use towards the target – and as the council leader explained, over the 6 years many brownfield sites have come forward. The (long delayed) huge Meridian Water development and the A10 Southbury retail park area’s transformation into a tower block forest are the big players towards meeting the target. Smaller brownfield sites that owners have brought forward are already not short of controversy– think Morrisons and Sainsburys in our immediate locality. Then, as the London Plan guides, you pack in near travel hubs to minimise traffic use. Such plans at Southgate and Enfield Town have seen strong pushback. Beyond that and it still leaves a very large number to fill. Options then seem to be:
1.       Build outside of London instead – not an Enfield decision and previously ruled out.
2.       Ignore the position – HMG will take control determine the build.
3.       Level existing estates and rebuild with higher density streets – I haven’t heard this one spoken about and suspect it may be more for two or three plan cycles down the track unless population stabilises.
4.       Build upwards – and that is strongly opposed.
5.       Build on the green belt – and that is strongly opposed.

Labour argue and plan for both of the latter, the opposing Conservatives argue against both.

Francis suggests that at least four groups had all produced alternate plans. That suggests an immense volume of work undertaken and perhaps one or all had squared the where-to-house circle without going up or out. I’d be interested to know.

The focus of the Inspector will not be to assess alternate plans but rather consider this plan and its soundness, or not. Beyond it’s fitting with planning regulations, general alignment with the NPPF and London Plan, they tend to start from the position of it’s OK – it then becomes up to opponents to prove the opposite.  And being evidence based, to prove is the key requirement.

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The Local Plan Debate Of Missed Opportunities.

Darren Edgar

21 Mar 2024 09:44 #7116

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Labour being Labour. Tories being Tories. All wrapped around the perma-objection NIMBYism or more accurately BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

Wish the nonsense around Sainsbury's getting developed would die a death. Local Tories and Lib Dems lying enough for people to have fully bought into the idea now.

And as for the alternate plans, the first hypocrisy is usually that those developed and focussed on brownfield land protect the wealthy west and dump housing need into poor east of the Borough and even when someone tries to build on brownfield it still gets heartily objected to!

And those groups.... some big but some one-man bands. I'd be highly sceptical of the quality and thoroughness of what they'd propose.

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