Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Too Late!

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so my mother used to tell her. In Town & Country planning I've seen no evidence to the contrary over the last 7 years. Planning in Stockton has been governed by a mix of government policies and the Local Plan, written many years ago. About 6 years ago it was announced that we were going to have a new way of dealing with planning - the Local Development Framework. This was to be a portfolio of policies which would take a lot less time to write, would be renewed regularly and would allow us to respond more effectively to the needs of our borough. Rubbish is the most polite word I can use! After years of writing ponderous documents, consulting and rewording and reconsulting on them we finally had one agreed this year. We now have a core strategy. Well, great - but what about the other things we need? They're still going through the process.
Last week it was suggested that the Yarm & Eaglescliffe Area Action Plan, supposed to give us a way of stopping some of the inappropriate developments in Eaglescliffe (demolition of beautiful old buildings and replacement with blocks of flats), should now be dealt with as part of another huge document which might, if we're lucky be in force this time next year. Today we get a document on areas with special local character, such as parts of Yarm Rd in Eaglescliffe, Junction Rd in Norton etc. It too will be part of the greater Regeneration Development Plan Document! 5 years ago I was excited at the prospect of these documents coming into force. Now - it's too little too late. We have lost beautiful properties like Goosegarth. Copsewood has a housing estate where once it had tennis courts and lawn. The halt in such developments has nothing whatever to do with our supposedly better planning framework and everything to do with the slowdown in the economy.
The next time a Head of Planning tells me that the new system will be an improvement s/he will be greeted with a hollow laugh.

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