Monday, 8 December 2008

Direction of Housing Growth at Aylesbury December 2008

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Now that I have read the consultation document, listened to a presentation at the Local Area Forum and let it all sink in, I am clear on two points: 1. The major decisions have been made for us and we are only consulted on the trifles; 2. There is no real ambitious vision for the vale.

This consultation is a sham. It is more of a cover up for the previous ridiculous “consultation”. The fact that we have again the Southern Arc as an option despite it being rejected by the residents and found to be extremely lacking in a few important issues. The same major problems haunt all the “new” options ‘put’ in front of us: currently almost all schools are to the south of Aylesbury. Some schools to the north of the town will help elevate the Rut-Run Congestion. Moreover, writing a consultation a second time will not change the flood risks identified during the first round.

However, there are more important issues to consider. The job opportunities have been dwindling in our vale for the last decade. The wording of the consultation indicates the planners assume the new development will be mainly dormitory residence putting burden on the already over encumbers transportation to London and the Thames corridor. This development could have been used as an opportunity two fold: leveraging transport and job opportunities. Building in the north of Aylesbury would lend strength to the need for a train link to Oxford and Milton Keens. I find the assertion that just more people living here will generate more jobs ridicules. To really encourage local employment we need what I call “seeds of growth”. A centre of academic research such as a university concentrating on subjects that are relevant to high-tech or Start up ventures.

I believe the development is inevitable and that eventually all the options in the “Consultation”, and more, will be built up. Therefore, I would prefer a solution that will preserve as much of the green belt as possible. To my mind the best solution that will preserve the surrounding green and neighbouring villages is modern high rises with a narrow foot print. Alas, the experience of the 60ies and 70ies has left a lasting intolerance in peoples minds. However, Aylesbury must grow up into a proper city in order to preserve the character of its surrounding and ensure prosperity of its residence. Lets face it, Aylesbury is a characterless town. Adding more kennel-like houses will not help.

A desperate attempt to cloak the consultation is a pretence of ‘green’ considerations is the promise to “provide a minimum of 10% of the total energy requirements … renewable or low carbon energy”. There is even a wind turbine on one of the diagrams. Well it is just an intention that could be discarded as un practical later. I ask why just 10% and what are the other low carbon solutions? What are the guarantees that these ‘intentions’ would be enforced?

I wonder what is hiding behind the finding that for the Combined East and Southern Growth Arc “Transport modelling suggests that it may be the worst performing of the three options.” I think it refers to the fact it will be costly to construct both sets of trunk roads required for the Eastern and the southern construction. I cannot see how this would be worst congestion-wise; to my layman’s logic it is the other way round.

Last and not least the intention to allow for sustainable transport should be strengthened. I would like to see a clear promise to provide a wide network of dedicated cycle paths.

I am not going to respond to the questions in the consultation questionnaire as they insult my intelligence and do not focus at the real issues.

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