Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Comment ID 1206
Document Section Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) Foreword [View all comments on this section]
Respondent P J Burrows [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 30 Nov 2010
What is the nature of this representation?
  • Object
SSDC Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

I wish to register to the Council my very strong objections to the above proposals. My objections are both to the process by which these proposals are being made and to various elements of the development proposals contained therein. Due to the significant size and scope of the proposals, I have endeavoured to summarise the principles of my objections into the body of this letter and attach my detailed responses in the Appendices.
In terms of the process, I believe that the matter has been poorly communicated and that inadequate time has been given for its evaluation by the affected parties. I also believe that the proposals are based on out of date or insufficiently justifiable data. A significant change in the value of the data input to the process leads not just to a change in scale of the proposals, but radically changes the nature of the development requirements. This renders major elements of the proposed developments, e.g. the eco town/urban extension to Yeovil, unnecessary. Further, whilst I believe such massive growth proposals are unjustifiable, I also have several concerns about the manner in which potential sites for expansion of Yeovil have been evaluated. My concerns are both over the nature and relative values of the various factors that have been used for assessment. I am also concerned about the very limited amount of information on this assessment that has been made readily available for public evaluation.

1. Poor Communication and Limited Public Consultation

In the Foreword, it is stated (in bold print):

" ... That means that every resident of South Somerset must have the opportunity to be
heard and that is why every household has been invited to express their views and thoughts."
The proposals are large in scope - covering the period up until 2026 and the proposed construction of 16,600 dwellings, with significant impact particularly on the inhabitants of Yeovil and its immediately surrounding villages. The construction of an eco town or urban extension to Yeovil is of potentially enormous impact. Yet, the following would appear to be the case:
§ Whilst these proposals have been under development in the Council since December 2009 (and probably in advanced consideration for even longer) very little, if any, advance communication has been distributed to residents in preparation for the 'public consultation' process that is ongoing at the time of writing.
§ The actual time to evaluate these proposals by residents is extremely limited. Notification of "Consultation Meetings" with the Council have been poorly communicated and for some residents attending these it would be the first time that they have become aware of the significance of these proposals. The meetings in Yeovil and East Coker, both significantly affected locations, were held at the end of October and beginning of November with a closing date for responses by 3rd December. General enquires made at random of various residents in Yeovil and area around indicates a low degree of awareness of these proposals, again indicating poor communication.
§ Whilst the major Core Strategy document is available to view in Council offices and on the Council website, the frequently referenced Sustainability Assessment and other supporting documents are not so readily available. These are key to understanding how the proposals have been arrived at and to assist in answering the Council's own published question:
" Have we got it wrong? If so, please tell us why?
(from SSMC leaflet Yeovil - Let us know your views')

Thus, in summary, the public consultation process has been inadequate, and needs to be significantly extended and better communicated before any draft strategy goes forward to the next stage.

Foreword (p.2)
"...every resident of South Somerset must have the opportunity to be heard and that is why every household has been invited to express their views and thoughts..."
Evidence gathered from a number of Yeovil residents is that the proposals have not been well communicated. The time available for response in some case has been as little as less than two weeks (with presentations in late November and a closing date of 3rd December). This statement would not appear to be well supported by evidence.