Happy Easter everyone, I hope you are all enjoying a well earned break and recharging those batteries?
I promised in my last note to update you as soon as I had further news on the Strategic Planning Board that will decide our application, and we now have more definite information.
The Strategic Planning Board will not happen in April and is now most likely to be scheduled for July or August. The main reason for this is so that Haddon can respond to the Council on the many items we have raised and the missing information in their initial proposal. Haddon has agreed to this extension so there is no risk of Appeal against Pre Determination at this stage. In some ways the longer this goes on the closer the Local Plan will get to being completed, which again we are very confident will not include our site. The Committee and yourselves have built an extremely strong and robust case for refusal and we are extremely confident that Cheshire East will robustly refuse this application, which then firmly leaves the ball in Peter Hunt’s (the owner of Haddon) court. Does he want to pursue it through further appeals, at great cost, or will he then accept that this is not a Community to be messed with, or a place to build 900 houses? Only he knows.
In other news I have been working closely with Cheshire East on a Community Right to Bid piece of work which has now been officially approved by the Council. This effectively gives the Community first opportunity to buy the Gorsty Hill Golf Course and Country Park should Haddon wish to sell it. The Community has 6 weeks to register an interest as and when the asset is notified for sale and then there is a full 6 months moratorium to assemble a bid for the asset. This is a powerful tool and along with having the area designated on the Open Space register shows how much we value it and are prepared to fight to protect it. I have to say a great deal of thanks to Janet Clowes, our local Ward Councillor, who has been very helpful in getting this actioned and who has been extremely helpful and supportive throughout this whole process, thank you Janet.
Another vital piece of work that we are planning to work on with the Parish Council is a Neighbourhood Plan for the Weston and Basford area and I am meeting with the Parish next week to see how the Committee and I can help to push this along. Getting a formal Neighbourhood Plan in place is another strong piece of evidence for refusal of the application. Questionnaires will hopefully be out within the next few weeks.
Things may seem quiet over the next few weeks, from the development side at least, but please use them to take the opportunity to challenge your local Candidates for Ward and Parliamentary elections about how they will support residents in their fight against speculative and unsustainable developments. Government Ministers and Local Councillors are the people who will most likely have the final say on this application and we need them to be as supportive as Janet Clowes and Edward Timpson MP have been to us throughout our campaign.
The Committee and I continue to explore every avenue we can to strengthen our already very strong case to beat Peter Hunt and to get back to the life we all wanted in this area. Bovis will be off site shortly and we can work on making the Wychwood area into a place to live with a real sense of Community which this fight has helped to create.
Have a great Easter and I will update you on any further information I hear.
Chairman – Wychwood Community Group