Cannock Chase Green Party recognises that there will always be competing demands for the finite resource of land. Protecting our green belt and open spaces is often in conflict with providing employment land and land to help solve the housing crisis.
Cannock Chase Green Party is particularly concerned about the over-development of prime agricultural farmland and important natural habitats and the low-density sprawl that makes sustainable development difficult. We are also concerned that the allocation of land for housing has not kept up with the growing population, contributing to rising housing costs, and in turn to more overcrowding, a greater reliance on housing benefit, fewer households being able to live near their place of work or their family, and in extreme cases homelessness.
Cannock Chase Green Party aims are:
(i) To achieve patterns of development that enable all people to realise their potential and improve the quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earth’s life support systems
(ii) To provide housing that is suitable for and affordable by local people as well as the land, infrastructure and facilities for work, social and cultural activities as required by the community.
(iii) To protect land providing other human uses that are essential to the national and local community, such as floodplains, farmland and national parks.
(iv) To minimise the impact of human development on other species, and to nurture a network of resilient habitats to reverse declining biodiversity.
(v) To improve the permitted use of land to meet local needs such as housing without prejudicing long-term aims.
(vi) To enhance integrated transport systems
(vii) To promote leisure and tourism.
(viii) To promote walking and cycling
(ix) To encourage zero carbon development and prohibit developments that contribute to climate change (such as fracking).
Achieving these requires a recognition that policies addressing all aspects of planning, including construction, housing, energy, education, transport, food, waste, water, health, the economy and natural habitats, are interconnected.
Cannock Chase Green Party strongly opposes any land designations which allows inappropriate development on Cannock Chase’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Cannock Chase Green Party strongly supports the green belt to contain urban sprawl, to maintain the separation of settlements, and to protect prime agricultural land. However, we recognise that the Green-belt should be kept under constant review and in some circumstances the green-belt designation can be removed.
Our Green Belt should be secured against future development and other districts, boroughs and locations be exhausted before consideration of Green Belt in Cannock Chase. If this is done thoroughly I do not see the need for any development on Green Belt.
The AONB and SSSI sites should be wholly protected against any development and the restrictions already observed should remain closely enforced to protect the character and nature of the area.
Building on the Green Belt: The Green Party generally opposes building on the green belt particularly when there is underused brownfield sites and empty buildings in need of bringing back into use. That said there are some areas of the Green Belt that are less important than others due to previous planning decisions. In particular segments of land that have become sandwiched between the A5 and the M6 Toll should be developed prior to encroachment into other Green Belt land.
Cannock Chase Green party is dismayed that the local plan only includes for the provision of three cycle paths over the next 11 years. A walking and cycling plan should be included as a priority. Some suggestion for cycle paths are include later in this response.
Local Plan should include aspirational cycle infrastructure so as land is released developers can link up to proposed cycle routes.
Cannock Chase Green Party believe that the local plan should include every planning permission for new building that has been granted but has yet to be completed. The number of units and date granted should be included.
We believe that any planned infrastructure projects should also be included in the plan. If a new school or expansion of an existing school is planned, it helps inform stakeholders opinions about the consultation. Local Plan should include any Government development plans such as school expansion so that developers can build houses in the right place. The Local Authority should consider establishing density requirements so that less land is used to provide the same number of units. Compelling developers to build three-storey houses instead of two storey houses, for example, could reduce the overall footprint considerably.
We would like to see greater emphasis on home which are affordable in all developments with an increased obligation for a greater proportion within any development, possibly 50%.
Where green field land is included within the local plan the council should stipulate the housing density. Too often developers cite the need to build on Green-field sites as a way of addressing the housing crisis and the need for affordable housing, and then use the land to build expensive houses. Setting a density requirement will enable the council ensure the local communities priorities are met.
The areas of general principle I would like to see considered include the exhaustion of all brownfield sites and dwellinghouses brought back in to use should be the first priority of development.
Developments in the existing urban areas should be considered with due regard to broader environmental and social wellbeing criteria.
In the event that the Local Plan releases new development land the council should stipulate a time limit for development to prevent land-banking. They should ‘use it or lose it’.
Consideration should be given to the Local Authority taking an active role in site assembly and installing the infrastructure and then selling individual plots off to self-builders. This approach assists local people far more than allowing national builders to develop. It can also add greatly to the mix of housing designs.
The Local authority should promote its self-build register and work with landowners with the aim of providing individual building plots. Self-builds can help people get on to the housing ladder and self-builders tend to invest more in the local community.
Local Authority can take lead in assembling the land, putting in the infrastructure and then selling plots off individually with outline planning permission. They would be snapped up by self-builders who struggle for individual plots. Council could even turn a profit.
The Local Authority should include every empty property within the local plan. This resource may assist developers in bringing them back into use.
The local plan should include details of every empty property. Empty properties blight many of our neighbourhoods. Dealing with bringing these premises back into use can help reduce the need to build on the greenbelt.
Local authorities should make more use of small sites, which are often overlooked or undervalued in the current land availability assessments. Dense infill developments could significantly offset the need to build on larger brownfield and greenfield sites that provide natural habitats.
Where owners of land designated for development in the local plan fail to bring it forward for development in a timely manner, local authorities should exercise compulsory purchase orders in the public interest, to prevent land hoarding.
Our expectations in respect to community infrastructure levy should be more robust and clearly defined to benefit the community as well as improve the amenities, roads, schools etc. at an earlier stage of any development. So we build the schools needed before or at the same time as houses are being occupied not afterwards.
In respect to employment land development we should be mindful of location with proximity to other industrial or commercial development. Consideration should be given to prevent or mitigate the potential for neighbour conflict arising out of inappropriate development where there is likely to be resident concerns regarding nuisance factors including noise and light.
The connectedness of employment development to residential areas should be emphasised with particular reference to pedestrian accessways, cycle routes and public transport ahead of road building.
As far as possible the employment development should be directed towards high skilled employment and the supporting learning infrastructure. We have a high number of lower skill, national minimum wage employers in the district and we should proactively encourage higher skill, higher pay jobs to come to the district. A consideration for proposals could include the fast growing renewable energy sector in particular with the national grid connections through the former power station at Rugeley.
Policy should be strengthened towards utility and power distribution infrastructure creating heat and power networks as well as rainwater harvesting, ground source heating and renewable energy solutions at the design stage of any development and particular attention paid to PassivHaus standards and these prioritised ahead of other development standards. http://www.passivhaus.org.uk/
In respect to the Gypsy, travellers and traveling showpeople sites care must be taken to ensure they are not a marginalised community and for this to become a reason to permit further extensive development within the Green Belt areas. More work should be done to promote inclusion and education of all communities.
Specific site concerns
With specific reference to the promotion of a major site within the AONB at Cannock Wood this site should not be promoted ahead of any others. As well as the very fact that it is within the AONB area there are additional concerns with development in the area. I attach a newspaper feature which highlights the special nature of this area.
The area has particular significance with the Nunswell and the historic abbey area. Indeed, the current landowner seems to be over developing the area to accommodate current use.
More broadly the areas in this part of the District still retain some semblance of rural individualism and any developments which intensify to produce a more urban appeal should be resisted completely. The communities of Hazel Slade, Rawnsley, Prospect Village and Cannock Wood are already under pressure from a loss of identity and a creeping urbanisation. The Green Belt serves a purpose which is exemplified by the village nature of the communities here.
The infrastructure in this area should be considered in that roads, utilities, schools, doctors and amenities are sparse in this area and would need considerable investment to accommodate further population.
We also have concerns about the scale of the submitted proposals between Wimblebury and Prospect Village and this would create a whole new suburb if allowed to proceed. The retention of this area of Green Belt is essential to protect the community identities. Even a partial development would damage the character of the area as this might also be seen as part of a future long term use which would creep across the intervening area over time.
Finally, the last area of specific comment relates to the land at West Cannock Farm to the north east of Bradbury Lane. This is placed firmly in the AONB and should not be permitted at all.
Specific comments related to cycle routes
Rugeley Cycle route: The Green Party welcomes this route the connections to the existing dedicated cycle paths along Brereton Road and the link to Rugeley Town train station. We would like to see the dedicated route extended along Horse Fair and to the Bus Station. We think this will aid connectivity. Additional cycle storage could also be considered at the bus and train stations as well as local schools.
Hednesford-Rawnsley-Prospect Village cycle route: The Green Party welcomes this route to support the connections between communities.
Norton Canes Cycle Route: Whilst this route is welcome it is unlikely to be massively used unless it forms part of a more integrated scheme. Consideration to be given to providing good cycle access to Chasewater and a cycle route to link to the A5 cycle path improvements. Generally, cycle routes in Norton Canes are patchy with no continuous routes and little provision of bike stands in the village centre.
Missing Cycle routes: The proposals for Mill Green included improving cycling provision and links to the railway and bus stations. These are not shown.
Cycling Generally: A separate fully detailed cycling plan to be prepared to include integrated cycle paths through all new developments.
Bettys Lane to A5the upgrading of this bridle path to a cycle route will afford easy access from Norton Canes to employment opportunities as well as linking up to the new A5 cycle path. It will also link proposed new housing in Commonside to Norton Canes centre.
Brownhills Rd to Chasewater Currently this access is overgrown and frequently used by flytippers. Good access to Chasewater will improve the quality of life for Norton Canes residents.
Cannock Station to Route 5 of NCN and Norton Canes Centre A cyclepath from Cannock Station to Route 5 of the National Cycle Network would be a great asset for residents and tourists alike.
Walsall Road to the Orbital A cyclepath linking Norton Canes with the Orbital along the M6 Toll Corridor will open up employment possibilities. The link from Kingwood Lakeside to the A5 is essential and utilises the bridge across the M6 Toll.