2015 April: Cheadle Unite - Community Brief Part Two
‘Corporate’ SMDC intends to allow significant development around Cheadle unless you speak up.
Rumours of development on the Recreation ground and in every nook and cranny and green fields around Cheadle will continue. SMDC appear to have no desire to stop it. Any site is no longer safe and any claim of ‘by building here we won’t need to build over there’ can easily be changed once those houses are built. Cheadle Unite have worked for over 5 years to get a working relationship with SMDC residents and S-o-T, anything that they offer in the future is likely to be lip service, they will do as they please, backed by new Government policy.
The Following Details how the views of locals are dead in the water:
Yes but under current National Planning Policy and the Localism Act they have been put back in for the purposes of a 5 year plan.
I have made representations and signed the petition to Government does my opinion hold?
Apparently not, from now on under the Statement of Community Involvement, Previous representations can be ignored unless they relate to an existing application.
What evidence is there that SMDC are working with Stoke and the Potteries?
Very little, we had to make a FOI request which was ignored 3 times before they eventually responded. The SCI document has many pages on so called community engagement with residents and that is longer than the evidence of discussions with S-o-T Given how little they engage with us, don’t hold your breath.
Didn’t Cheadle Unite ask to be involved with talks with S-O-T and the Potteries on housing focused on Brownfield Sites?
Yes, the answer – any meetings SMDC may have with other councils do not include the public
Isn’t Bill Cash MP Involved?
Yes Sir Bill presented a petition to reduce our housing allocation; this got directed to the Department for Local Government and Communities. However we are not aware that they have made any form of request for SMDC to reduce our housing targets. They indicate evidence for housing targets should be robust, however we have already presented significant evidence via Sir Bill Cash that our neighbouring Potteries are struggling to attract development on brownfield sites and the significant objections and infrastructural limits that exist around Cheadle, but the minister has not intervened. The main text details why this may be the case.
What is this talk of Building on the Recreational Ground?
The Rec should be protected as a park and recreation ground. Further, we understand the land belongs to the town. It should not be developed on PERIOD it belongs to the people of Cheadle.
Surely we are not alone on this. Is there any evidence for what you claim on a national scale?
Yes the Community Voice on Planning (COVOP) is a national campaign. We have registered with them. http://covop.org/
What is the situation regarding SMDC and housing targets?
Our understanding is that SMDC have already commissioned a document to justify a level of housing and that they are far from using minimum figures. This will be used as an evidence base for any Government Inspection.
What is notable is that to date no consultation of residents views and aspirations have been factored into this and SMDC are far from looking at minimum housing figures from that report.
Why don’t we have adequate housing for five years if the land in Area 1 (North Opposite JCB) has already been adopted into the Local Plan?
SMDC can exclude an area from the plan if there isn’t a planning application in place for a certain area. Why this is so is unclear, however, there has been mention of a new JCB factory and we have asked about its potential location, without a response.
What is our relationship like with SMDC?
Not good. We are sure that most full time Staff in the lower ranks are hard working and we get indications they are understaffed, however at higher very well paid ‘Corporate’ level, we get little response. Cheadle Unite get very little feedback from SMDC and the vast majority of questions are evaded or ignored. The only pro-active correspondence we have had from SMDC was a complaint for printing the Chief Executives name on our website. Note these comments don’t relate to Cheadle Councillors.
Is it True Developers are getting pro-active support from SMDC?
Yes, for example in January SMDC Planning Officers submitted a 20 Page document supporting a planning application in Cheadle. We have asked who assumes legal responsibility for the claims made by SMDC Staff in light of clear concerns regarding the information provided, SMDC have not responded. As Council Tax goes to fund SMDC staff, we appear to be funding this advice and are it appears relinquishing Developers of any come back. Further we have asked for similar support for residents for a balanced perspective and again have had none from SMDC.
If they build a significant number of houses somewhere else in Cheadle away from my area is my area protected?
It would be easy to think yes, but any short term relief is not likely to last. The more SMDC get approvals through the stronger the message to developers that applications get approval and the easier it is to claim additional development is simply infill. The reality is that SMDC can modify their housing targets based on a changing presumed demand. These are figures that they themselves commission. Further the more they can divide and conquer the community the weaker our voice becomes. The way they are now only flagging planning to immediately affected residents highlights how they are pursuing this strategy.
What are SMDC likely to do next?
More Site allocations are likely this summer, bringing the prospect of more misery and uncertainty for residents.
Do you think Cheadle Unite speaks for many in Cheadle?
Based on 300-400 Representations in 2010 and over 1000 signatures in 2014 along with a poll of over 100 residents we feel with a very high level of certainty that the vast majority of Cheadle Residents oppose the excessive levels of housing development that are on the horizon.
What can we do about this?
Cheadle Unite is voluntary supported by a small core of people, for over 5 years we have fought for a better fairer deal for our town, but we are very limited and are unlikely to succeed unless wider community effort is forthcoming. If you wish to change the course of events, please disseminate this information and make your neighbours and friends aware of what is happening and detail to us how you wish to help or be kept informed