Woburn Sands & District Society | 08 January 2008

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30/10/2009 - EERA 4 options Consultation

East of England Regional Plan Review

EERA is currently consulting on 4 options for growth as part of its review of the East of Englan Plan, published in May 2008 covering the period 2001 to 2021. Deadline 24th November

The current EE Plan was published in May 2008 and covers the period 2001 – 2021. Almost immediately the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) was instructed by Gvt to carry out a review of the existing plan and to extend the plan to 2031 with a view to increasing housing numbers in within the published plan period and then to 2031.

The NHPAU (an unelected group set up by the Government in 2007 outside of the Government’s own imposed regional planning structure) published regional housing figures in 2008 of what they thought the regional housing targets should be. They did the same in 2009 increasing the totals yet again. EERA was asked as part of their review to “test” these NHPAU figures.

The current EE plan housing totals up to 2021, are about 26,000 new dwellings per annum across the whole Region, which was 4,000 over what had been achieved in past delivery. This increase EERA regarded as challenging in both delivery of dwellings and the jobs and infrastructure that would ensure their sustainability.

Current Situation
EERA is of the view that higher of the NHPAU figures is unachievable, and would compromise any attempt to make growth sustainable i.e. to be sustainable, people have to have not only dwellings to live in, they need jobs to pay the rent/mortgage, they need infrastructrure to support their living e.g.health care, education, transport, council services, utilities etc. A dwelling on its own, is nothing more than shelter from wind and rain.

EERA is consulting on 4 options – the details can be seen under the heading of supporting documents at http://eera-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/rssto2031scenarios
The other document that should also be considered in conjunction with the options is the Local Area Profiles which can be found at: http://www.eera.gov.uk/What-we-do/developing-regional-strategies/east-of-england-plan/east-of-england-plan-review-to-2031.

Milton Keynes expansion is not mentioned in respect of the four options, but is mentioned in the Local Area Profiles. EERA has currently not made it clear, whether or if any MK expansion occurs into Central Bedfordshire, whether such numbers would form part of the SE Plan or the EE Plan. Clarification is being sought.

Where Bedfordshire is concerned the four options consist of:

Option 1
A roll over of the existing plan to 2031 – which in effect means for Bedfordshire 3,320 dwellings per annum and a total of 64, 640 over the twenty year period from 2011 to 2031. (These figures we consider are the upper end of what could possibly be achieved in a sustainable manner)

Option 2
This option is based on the lower end of the NHPAU required housing figures – but draws on the Arup study into the feasibility of building new settlements (towns) in the Region. To achieve the NHPAU figures all six of the Arup study regional settlement suggested sites would be required, including one site in Bedfordshire. It is of note that three of the six, including Bedfordshire were not considered economically sustainable, and would in Bedfordshire’s case jeopardise the existing growth centres of Bedford and MK. This option would generate 3,980 dwellings per annum and a total of 79,640 dwellings in the period from 2011 to 2031.

Option 3
This option is also based on the lower end of the NHPAU required housing figures, but this time the distribution of growth is determined where the greatest potential for generating jobs is concerned. (That is not to say that potential is achievable).
For Bedfordshire this would mean totals the same as Option One i.e. 3,230 dwellings on average per annum, and a total for the period of 2011 to 2031 of 64,640.

Option 4
This option is based on what would be required if past demographic trends including migration continues. For Bedfordshire the figures rise – mainly based on higher figures for Bedford, Luton, and what was Mid Bedfordshire, and a lower figure for the former South Bedfordshire. (We have considerable concerns in respect of the sustainability in respect of jobs for these figures)
The overall Bedfordshire figures would mean 3,550 dwellings per annum and a total for the period 2011 – 2031 of 71,000

The Consultation deadline is for the 24th November 2009 and we would encourage every member to make representation.

Having considered the options we are of the view that a further two options should have been considered.
1. That the review should conclude it was inappropriate to carryreview at this time for reasons spelt out in our represention and that this should have been left to 2011, when there might be a little more indication of economic recovery
or that
2. The review should have reduced the numbers in areas where there was little chance of any significant economic growth, in the forseeable future, maintaining the growth numbers in areas where there was a stronger economic growth patter. Again we spelt out the reasions in our representation.

Of the four options - if we had to chose one of the four, though all we consider to be unsustainable and unachieveable, that Scenario 1 is the only one we would select.

The Society's representation can be found in the Documents library.

Additionally the Society will be seeking clarification in respect of any figures arising from MK expansion, and where these figures would count and the precedent that would set.

News Keywords: EERA scenario consultation

Areas Covered include: Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Aspley Heath, the Brickhills, Husborne Crawley, Salford, Wavendon and Woburn
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