How do these people sleep at night? The Pegasus consultancy was re-engaged by the council to re-assess its own flawed previous Green Belt & Countryside Study, wherein Volume 4 written in response to the changed circumstances induced by the NPPF was roundly criticised by residents across the borough for errors in fact and analysis, and write a new Volume 5. Its astonishing isn’t it, how in a democratic society the gamekeeper can be allowed to let the fox into the chicken coop again.
In Normandy, the Parish Council was now alert to the needs of the second Sustainability Assessment questionnaire and submitted one return for the settlement of Flexford and one for the settlement of Normandy, after all, they would appear separately in the Settlement Hierarchy, wouldn’t they, just as they were in the February 2013 version of the Green Belt & Countryside Study, Volume 3. The bear trap was set and the consultants, no doubt with prompting by planning officers and the interim manager hired to force through this local plan, fell into it.
Guess what, in the new Settlement Hierarchy the returns for the two settlements of Flexford and Normandy did not appear separately but were once again conflated into one. Pegasus have already redrawn the settlement boundary, no doubt at the prompting of council officers, without ever admitting it. Gotcha! Where a Parish in the borough has more than one settlement, where their separate sustainability scoring drops them out of the potential development envelope, that is just too inconvenient.
When interviewed by Eagle Radio on 30 April the leader of the council can be heard during the Q&A session to say “no decisions have been made”. This is clear evidence that a decision has been taken, and was taken back in 2009, when the first Pegasus study was published, to target Normandy for massive housing expansion. It is an imperative for this borough council that Flexford and Normandy are forced together in order to allow the area to be so targeted.
So what do they do next in the analysis to attempt to make Flexford and Normandy a ‘Potential Major Development Area’ [PMDA]? They declare now, that its the newly found lack of facilities that have caused even the conflated community area to drop from fourth to tenth in the Settlement Hierarchy, makes the area suitable for development! It now needs new facilities added, to help reach the underhand aspirations of the council. Don’t worry, if their settlement hierarchy scoring system doesn’t deliver what they want at the first attempt they’ll find some other way. Specious, specious, specious arguments. At every twist twist and turn they reveal themselves for what they are.
The next step in the manipulation is in the evaluation of the open Green Belt land chosen for the PMDA. It is admitted that it contains Ancient Woodland and areas of wildlife conservation importance. But that is not enough. These people want to concrete it over, whatever, to achieve a community of a “critical mass”. There is no explanation of what a “critical mass” means other than perhaps a target of 4,000 residents. You’d suspect its to do with money. This council is desperate for central government handouts through the New Homes Bonus and Community Infrastructure Levy [CIL] and you can’t get your hands on meaningful chunks of that unless you create large enough development areas.
And when that happens, with the willing consent of a desperate council the developer will march onto the land with bulldozers and destroy, destroy, destroy…