Wednesday, 30 January 2013
A WAKE UP CALL FROM HIBERNATION
I'm afraid it has been a few months since I last "blogged" but I have now been shocked and stirred from my winter hibernation! By courtesy of a village group called LoveGoostrey I learn that we have yet another battle on our hands. Yes, you can guess, if not already informed, we are about to face another invasion from the developers who believe that Goostrey's green fields are ripe for what on the Spanish costas would be labelled urbanisation . Hand-in-hand in consultations with Cheshire East Council's Local Plan several builders are already rumoured to have quietly crept under the village radar to discuss at least three sites ( off Station Road. Main Road and Mount Pleasant) where 234 new homes can be plonked on green acres.What is more insulting is that in planning speak we have been robbed of our rural status and an ancient name that was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Goostrey is now classed as a small town, lumped together in Cheshire East in 13 areas known as Local Service Centres, including Holmes Chapel, Chelford and Alderley Edge, where 2,000 new homes will be built if developers and, no doubt, housing associations have their way. The insane council mandarin who thought up this one must have been breast-fed on George Orwell's 1984!
It may be of news to many that with less than a month to go before discussions on the proposals must end on February 26, the bid to expand Goostrey is currently part of Cheshire East Council's consultation with the community over its Local Plan. Now, I know I have been a little inactive over the past few months but until the LoveGoostrey newsletter arrived on my mat from its chairman Martin de Kretser I was largely ignorant of the issues unfolding about the Local Plan, or that my views were being sought. I must have missed out somewhere. Even local newspapers serving the area appear to have ignored the story although I am sure it must have been given a mention. But it seems sad I have to rely on a residents newsletter to keep informed. Fair enough, Cheshire East Council does have a website devoted to the issue but take your eye off the ball and how do you know it exists ? Or that you can look at the draft plan in Holmes Chapel library! Surely in this age of mass communications it was not beyond the wit of the council to send a note to all households seeking their comments.Get behind with the rates and I'd bet they would soon be knocking on the door!
According to LoveGoostrey (website http://LoveGoostrey.wordpress.com) there is now the opportunity (if belatedly) for residents to make their views known to influence where (or if) all these houses will go in the village. "The Local Plan affects everyone in the village but you can influence how Goostrey will look in the future," the LG say. The initial reaction to the proposals is that it currently appears to encourage a disproportionate development of Goostrey. Rightly it maintains that too much development would affect everyone in the village with too many additional houses, people and cars and all the infrastructure to support them. "If you want to go on living in a rural village you need to act now and add your comments to the Consultation to limit the development." Few would claim that Goostrey is one of those pretty postcard villages beloved of chocolate box makers but it does have its own charm and picturesque corners. The rash of development in the sixties and seventies managed to take place without the loss of its soul and was welcomed by and large by its inhabitants of then little more than 1,000. It seemed to me to have been a seamless merger of new and old, and certainly I have yet to meet anyone who has not felt a genuine welcome in the village. But there are limits to this kind of passive acceptance and overkill can lead only to resentment. Over the past 30 years Goostrey has grown at a slower, more natural rural pace, with any new housing on a small scale or in individual plots. Needs of local families should now be the issue for a Local Plan - not several hundred mansion-style homes (and no doubt a few so-called affordable houses) built by speculators and designed for wannabe country people at asking prices far beyond what any young couple from Goostrey can afford.
I would urge anyone interested in the future of the village to log on to the LoveGoostrey website to read its well argued assessment of the Local Plan. Cheshire East's website for comments is: http://cheshireeast-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/