Weekly digest: July 7th

Hi everyone

A short edition this week as there’s some sort of footie match taking place later on this afternoon. And with the weather staying hot, it’s not the time to be stuck in a corner slaving over a computer. After all, whilst I enjoy penning these weekly missives, sometimes there’s more important things to be doing…. C’mon England!

So, a quick update on a couple of the subgroups we have in the Forum. More about other subgroups in future editions.

  1. Barracks subgroup
    • The Barracks team sole focus is to look at the MoD site and come up with a plan for how we’d like to see this area redeveloped. They have adopted a twin-track approach to help shape their views:
      1. They have taken the lead to examine the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) submissions to the council. These documents lay out the DIO’s views for the site and provide a useful starting position
      2. The subgroup also use the proverbial blank sheet of paper and imagine what residents would like to see in an ideal world.
    • At their meeting last week, they documented some ‘blue sky’ ideas for the specific area surrounding the memorial garden. We think this part of the site could become a great ‘heart’ for the whole area so we are thinking how best to encourage development around the garden that will attract both residents and visitors to the garden.
    • A good start has been made but there is more to be ‘fleshed’ out.
  2. Housing subgroup
    • This group have a specific task to look at our current housing stock and decide what we’d like to see in the future. For instance, would we like to see:
      1. more 5 bed houses or something smaller?
      2. more detached houses or more flats/apartments?
      3. more affordable homes or more private rented?
    • Whatever we decide we want to see in our Area, we have to ensure we have the evidence that justifies our ‘wants’. And we may not be able to be too prescriptive in how we set policies e.g. the no. of affordable dwellings or no. of private rented.
    • However, the group have done a lot of research to gather data for our Area including future projections of population growth. One of the more compelling stats (to me at least) was the projection that there will be a lot more single person households in the future and that smaller-sized dwellings is going to be in demand
    • The group are finalising their proposals for housing in the next week or two and then we will want to share this with you to get your views. So, expect to see a future digest focus solely on this key topic.
  1. And finally….a couple of snippets
    • Our consultants (AECOM) carried out a site visit on the Barracks last Thursday. They were impressed by what they saw but disappointed not to have chance to look inside any of the buildings (apart from the church). Next step is for them to write up a draft of their assessment and then have a workshop with members of the Steering Group to talk through draft conclusions. This will hopefully take place late Jul/early Aug
    • The Forum managed to rescue the display boards used at the exhibition (in St Mary’s Church) commemorating the centenary of the Shell Factory explosion. These display boards were too good to be dismantled and disposed of. We hope to store them long term and use them at future events and – who knows – perhaps as part of a new museum on the Barracks once it has been sold!
    • The Borough Council’s Local Plan has finally been published. We’ve not had chance to review it yet, but here is a link to the document if you want to have a look. Be warned it comprises a hefty 250+ pages. This document is important to us as it provides the framework for our Neighbourhood Plan.
    • Our next Steering Group meeting takes place Thursday. If you would like to come along or have any matter you like to see raised, please let me know and I’ll send more details

And now there is less than an hour to go to kick off, so I’ll stop now and get prepared. *Clears throat*  “three lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming, thirty years of hurt”…

Kind regards
Graham

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2 Responses to Weekly digest: July 7th

  1. Mark T says:

    We welcome comments here or by email. If you respond by email, we will post your comments (and our response) to allow others to see them.

    Here is one we received from Hilary:
    A very quick response to your latest update. Re ‘Housing’ – is there to be no consideration given at all to the possible inclusion of some Council housing on the site…….??

    • Mark T says:

      And our response:
      Hi Hilary,
      I’ve not yet read the Local Plan in detail but I’m pretty sure the council won’t be building any council housing on the site. They stopped building their own houses many years ago and have left it to private housing associations to cater for the ‘social housing’ demand. We, in the Forum, definitely want to see social housing built in our area whether they are owned / managed by the council or a housing association. The question will be how many and where. I suspect we come close to council expectations for ‘affordable’ housing i.e. around 300 dwellings in total representing 30% of the 1,000 dwellings planned before 2028. How many of these affordable homes will be allocated as social housing remains to be seen.

      Do you have thoughts on the numbers you’d like to see built on the site? If so it will be useful to have your ideas, so we can include them in our thinking.

      And many thanks for getting in touch – we always appreciate the comments

      Kind regards
      Graham

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