I WRITE from my experience as a parish councillor, but these are my personal views.
I note that the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) currently going through Parliament includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development and is aimed at speeding up implementation of development plans. I trust that the key word is ‘sustainable’, which includes social and environmental elements as well as economic.
Here in Brampton we have had a seemingly constant flow of clearly unsustainable planning applications. I am not talking about local residents who want to extend their homes or build a new one. This is about national infrastructure plans (roads) and big housing projects, the quarries needed to provide the minerals to build them and the plans of international waste disposal companies to increase activities at local landfill sites.
Brampton has faced, and is still facing, such plans. First, the horrific A14 scheme, which would have devastated the lives of residents in our community with 10 lanes of traffic within 200 metres of family homes – 114,600 vehicles daily. This scheme was withdrawn by the Government last October and finally cancelled in July this year.
Secondly, the proposals for huge quarries at Brampton to extract the sand and gravel needed for the cancelled A14 scheme (2 million tonnes). These are still included in the county council minerals and waste plan (re-designated as ‘areas of search’) despite our efforts to have them deleted.
Thirdly, the projected closure of RAF Brampton in 2013 and plans for redevelopment of the site. The first plan proposed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation last October was high density (some 800 dwellings) and, crucially for the arts community in Brampton, featured demolition of the much-loved Little Theatre on the site.
Working subsequently with the district council planning team has been a much more pleasant experience, resulting in an RAF Brampton Urban Design Framework focused on sustainable development criteria.
A much more reasonable 400 homes are proposed, and the planning team has agreed to produce a Plan B, which will relocate some of the housing and include the theatre building – which the action group wishes to see developed as an arts centre for the whole community. This matter is still ongoing.
Fourthly, county council planning application H/05015/11/CW is for the Buckden North landfill site, which is within 250 metres of existing housing at RAF Brampton and is adjacent to Brampton Park Golf Club.
The Spanish company that owns this site wishes to extend the operating hours by an additional six hours each day (Monday-Friday) and reduce them by two hours on the Saturday before a Bank Holiday. Resulting operating hours would be Mon-Fri 3am-7pm (currently 7am-5pm) ,Sat (before BH) 7am-3pm (currently 7am- 5pm), (not before BH) 7am-1pm (unchanged) Sun (closed).
Fifthly, there is a separate planning application (1101355FUL) to the district council for an 85-metre wind turbine on the site.
Company engagement with the public about the landfill site hours has been poor, and no consultation about the wind turbine is planned. See the district and county council websites for detailed planning applications – you may be shocked by what you read.
I understand current deadlines for objections are November 18 (landfill hours) and November 10 (wind turbine). Brampton and Buckden residents are advised to contact their parish councils to confirm this and to make their views known.
Beware – unless the NPPF has a mechanism for filtering out non-sustainable development, a plethora of unsuitable planning proposals could become the norm for all rural villages (maybe it is already).