Gladman aboard Vulcan's last flight over Goostrey?
Anyone catching up with the Archers in recent times will find Ambridge’s anger over an ill-conceived by-pass every bit as familiar as Goostrey’s real-life story of country folk.In its battle to repel the developers, fictitious Ambridge has the odious Justin Elliot to fight, bolstered by loads-of-loot as he waits for the tarmac to role out in order to launch schemes to transform green acres into a kind of agri-industrial nightmare. Now we in Goostrey have Gladman developments to face in the jousting field among the many predators casting cash-filled eyes over its pastoral heritage with their plans for more speculative building of little or no benefit to the community. Since the 1960s the village has expanded from what was little more than a hamlet to the size of today. This was achieved as part of a planned expansion over several decades and was, by and large, welcomed by the host community. The village as it stands now has reached in the view of the majority a size in population that is just about sustainable. An additional estate sought by Gladman of 119 homes to feed a demand that does not exist locally would destroy the existing rural character of the village. And inevitably it would encourage more developers to add to a creeping urbanisation of the worst kind. Many villagers are probably unaware that in planners speak, Goostrey is known as the "dumb-bell" village with east and west divided by the green space between which Gladman is seeking to destroy. If allowed this development would increase the population by some 400 adults and children, add at least a further 200 or more cars on local roads, swamping the primary school and, perhaps more seriously, provide Holmes Chapel Health Centre with an impossible task of coping with another large surge in patients. Local doctors are already under siege with far more patients than they can handle or have a budget to provide services, including increasing numbers of the elderly, as the result of speculative developments in Holmes Chapel. It is now so cash-strapped that the doctors themselves are digging into their own pockets to maintain services. It can be argued there is a need for some so-called affordable housing as proposed in the development but evidence shows where such homes have been built locally incomers have been the beneficiaries, not young people from the village who would struggle to buy or rent these properties. The latest figures show that to buy a property for a modest £150,000 an annual income of £50,000 is necessary to support the mortgage. I can’t think of many first-time buyers even in what is regarded as well-heeled Goostrey have such financial resources available. I would suggest there are ample plots of infill land in the village where limited affordable housing could be built if there was a real need without the wholesale destruction of more green acres in what is arguably one of the most attractive areas of open country within the parish. But first of all there needs to be more lateral thinking among planning authorities to solve the so-called housing crisis. How daft is the situation where councils, increasingly whipped up by the hysterical frenzy for house building from politicians of all shades, simply ride roughshod over opposition and allow large-scale developments yet deny an individual approval to convert a garage or build a modest extension to house a son or daughter or elderly relative. There is also the well-founded argument that communities, Goostrey among them, which have more than done their bit in welcoming development in the past, should now be allowed to grow naturally as in previous centuries. A survey should be undertaken of all villagers to identify possible future family housing needs before the floodgates open. I note the multi-million pound Gladman business on its website boasts of success in crushing local opposition as it ranges far and wide nationwide like some reincarnation of Attila the Hun in persuading landowners to sell off areas of land.It has generated so much anger there is a national petition online (see the Love Goostrey website) calling on the Government to step in and impose a suspension order on its developments. I am encouraged that on this occasion in Goostrey our planners have not chickened out in the face of yet another public inquiry and are preparing to put Gladman to flight! We have come a long way since Mrs Hough, a welcoming basket of little goodies in hand, would greet newcomers of the 1960s to the village. The community response today to such a large-scale invasion will be very muted, I am sure. October 15 was the last day for objections to the Gladman proposals.