From the Steering Group's perspective the KATCAG Champions Meeting on 9th January proved exceedingly worthwhile! We noted a considerable number of observations, suggestions and ideas. Just how these are to be implemented will be discussed at the next Steering Group Meeting this coming Monday evening.
The people who attended were advised the core issues have come down to 1. the excessive housebuilding requirement for SCDC, as a whole 2. the disproportionate allocation of that requirement, to the Felixstowe Peninsular (and the Trimley villages, in particular) 3. whether or not there is a need for any additional employment land at all and 4. the perversity of selecting Innocence Farm as a preferred site.
Those present were advised a professional planning consultancy is to be engaged because of the complexity of the arguments. They were told, also, we are likely to be represented at the Inspector's hearing by a barrister and a planning consultant.
Whilst we feel confident about our various arguments, it was pointed out the bar is set fairly low when it comes to the Council's preferences. In view of this, it was proposed and agreed we need a back-up strategy focussing on the election of "Independent" District Councillor candidates at the District Councillor elections on 2nd May 2019. We will support these candidates in every possible way provided they are prepared to stand as "Independents" and commit to the principles of our Code of Practice, a 'Menu' item on the web site already.
If we achieve a 'majority' of sympathetic District Councillors at the May election, it is suggested the Final Local Plan can be withdrawn temporarily from the Inspector's office. However, it would have to be 'temporary' because Councillor Fryatt was correct when he stated a Local Plan is essential to preventing unwanted planning applications from developers. The fact it was him and his crew who are directly responsible for getting us into the present mess has got to be overlooked (for the time being, at least). It follows we will need alternative solutions so the Local Plan can be re-submitted without delay. The modifications we are anticipating are:
1. Finding a way of reducing the overall house-building requirement and, thereby, the land requirement
2. Placing greater emphasis on the delivery of 'social' and 'affordable' housing
3. Abandoning the concept of 'Garden Villages'
4. As far as it is possible to do so, withdrawing agricultural and greenbelt land where it has been proposed for housing development
5. Ensuring brownfield sites and under-utilised sites elsewhere are prioritised for development
6. Reviewing the employment land requirement, giving greater consideration to the many alternative sites available along the A14 corridor
7. Removing Innocence Farm from the Plan
With these objectives in mind, we will be directing the planning consultancy to work on them with immediate effect. They will be asked to ensure any possible alternative solutions are identified in advance of the Inspectors Hearing.
In the short-term, the pressing need is to identify candidates for each Ward, with the exception of "Western Felixstowe" (where we believe we can rely on support from the present incumbents) and "Orwell and Villages" where we have candidates willing to pick up the batten from Sue Harvey, who is retiring. Given the outcome of the vote on 3rd January, it may be the case other encumbent District Councillors will be willing to support the strategy outlined above, in which case we will ring-fence their prospective Wards also. We have posted a document showing the new Ward boundaries in the 'Documents' section and would ask you to contact us if you know of anyone (or a person who might know someone else!) who might be willing to stand as an "Independent"in their particular Ward.
Finally, it was recognised by all present we are now faced with a considerable funding challenge and the focus must be on donations, with pledges being kept in reserve. With a target of £60-£70K in mind, a number of Steering Group ideas were discussed and many other ideas were proposed from the floor. The Steering Group is to review all these ideas on Monday and we will outline an on-going funding strategy following that meeting.
In response to a specific query, it was confirmed KATCAG is in contact with 'Fairplay for Felixstowe' and anticipates contact with parish councils across the region, very shortly. This would be with a view to sharing the cost of any expenditure that would otherwise be incurred by them individually.