A new generation of planning policies which will set out the locations for housing, jobs and community facilities is being put together by Stroud District Council. That means we need to consider issues like whether we want housing in Ruscombe fields as proposed by a landbanking company? See some of the previous campaign blogs against that here. Or the last bits of green between Randwick and Cashes Green filled up with houses? Or whether we want more energy self-reliance across this District with more wind turbines sensitively sited?
Photos: views of Whiteshill and Randwick
These questions and more we need to consider - it would be wonderful if all local folk could respond to the simple survey that considers some of the issues addressed by new planning policies as the basis of a Core Strategy. This strategy will provide the framework for how the district will evolve over the next 15 years - we need to get it right!
The information provided by the public will be used to help draw up the Core Strategy which will then be voted on by the District Council. Then provided a Government Planning Inspector is happy that the correct procedure has been followed it will be approved. Once approved all planned development must contribute towards achieving the goals of the Core Strategy.
Locations for building new homes need to be identified; facilities that cater for the young and the old have to be provided and communities need to be kept active - these are all areas that the Core Strategy will consider. Take for example the Government plans that for over the next 20 years approximately 9000 new homes in the district have to be built. These homes must meet the needs of whole community whilst also causing minimal disruption to the natural environment. Real thought needs to given to find the best locations and to the facilities that will have to be built to support new communities.
We also need to bear in mind that more young people then ever are leaving rural areas to seek work and affordable accommodation. Coupled with an ageing population the sustainability of our villages is declining. Is the solution to extend our villages with more jobs and homes or to improve the transport links to urban areas?
Multi-use games areas have been built like the one in Cashes Green to promote active play and overall health. These sites can also be used by adults. Should more outside public spaces be redeveloped as multi-use areas or should there be a focus on creating indoor areas for activities? Or what about more natural play areas that focus on boulders, trees, ditches, mounds etc rather than standardised play equipment - see my letter here and here.
In Stroud town many plans have been made and are in the process of going forward as part of their Public Realm Strategy. This is intended to make environmental improvements and make the town more attractive to residents, workers and visitors. What improvements to our villages are necessary? And what of public transport? How will the transport needs of an ageing population be met? With rising fuel prices and the pressure to reduce CO2 emissions what is the solution to cutting car usage?
SDC with Gloucestershire County Council has supported successful and innovative bus services, such as the Wotton Hopper in and around Wotton-under-Edge, and Village Link, a demand-responsive bus service operating in Dursley area. Should SDC continue to invest in these initiatives, expand them or are there other improvements to bus services better?
There is lots more. Here is my quote sent in for the Parish magazine, The WaRbler: Philip Booth, Whiteshill and Ruscombe's District councillor said: "It is great our Parish Council are publicising this 'Core Strategy'. It may sound boring but it plays a critical role in how we wish to see the area developed in the future. Do residents want to continue to oppose homes being developed in the Ruscombe Valley fields? How do we protect the environment for future generations? Do we want to see more investment in say energy efficiency schemes that cut our bills and CO2 emissions? It is important that residents participate in this genuine consultation to find the best ways forward for the District."
20 key areas that will shape the future of our distinct - its down to you
• Improving the image of the District.
• Providing job opportunities across the District.
• Achieving a better transport system to help reduce CO2 emissions.
• How can we improve the vitality and viability of our town centres.
• How can we develop the tourist potential of the District.
• Supporting and capitalising on the District's artistic and cultural assets.
• Meeting the District's identified future housing needs.
• Maintaining and improving the sustainability of our villages.
• Improving provision of facilities for young people.
• Meeting the needs of an increasingly elderly population.
• Meeting the District's need for sports facilities.
• Achieving social inclusion and active communities, where community initiatives are the norm.
• Conserving and enhancing Stroud District's countryside and biodiversity.
• Protecting and enhancing our historic environment.
• Contributing to the provision of renewable and low carbon energy generation in the District.
• Minimising waste generation and increasing recycling.
• Ensuring that the Cotswold Canals restoration plays a positive role in the District.
• Provide resilience to flood risk.
• Meeting the District's need for open and green spaces.
• Which are the most important issues for the Core Strategy to focus on.
The deadline for feedback is Friday 1st May. The questionnaire is available online at www.stroud.gov.uk/core or by post: Core Strategy, Stroud District Council, Ebley Mill, Stroud, GL5 4UB. For further information call 01453 754092.