And finally, the most recent letter from SHA!C. Please feel free to leave a comment!
SHA!C’s secretary has written to you to outline the planning arguments against the ASL development and why from a planning perspective you should not support the application, but can I also ask you to consider this letter which represents the views of our group and many of the residents of our town.
Planning Application reference 12/000403/OUT – Land North of Campden Road
Shipston’s Heart Alive! Campaign represents a broad cross-section of interested local parties who value the town in which we live.
We were rather shocked and surprised at the insinuations put forward by Pegasus planning to the last Town Council meeting, in support of the Ainscough Strategic Land (ASL) proposals for a major housing and supermarket development on the Campden Road. It seems they are trying to guide councillors towards views that neither they nor the Council have any influence over.
We are similarly concerned about the small but vocal minority of residents who have formed a support group for the ASL proposals and we are worried that an element of this group do not fully understand the issues and implications of the proposed development. We’re concerned that unfortunately they have been influenced by the PR muscle that ASL have engaged to ‘distort the facts’ and attempt to misguide residents about their apparent overwhelming interest in the ‘wellbeing of our town’. A good example of this is the figure of £1.7m, which Pegasus said the council should look to ‘ring fence for the town’. You will be fully aware that a) apportioning this money is totally outside the control of either ALS or the Town Council, we can not ring fence it; and b) the likelihood of such sums being spent on Shipston is as likely as the District Council allocating vast swathes of the Shottery new-homes bonus for improvements to Shipston. It is not going to happen.
Specifically, we would like to bring the following points to the attention of our Councillors:
1. Lack of local Support
There is no evidence to suggest a general and genuine level of support in the town for the application, although there is a small but vocal minority backed by the developer and intent on promoting undeliverable large-scale opportunities from the proposed scheme.
2. Section 106 money
Pegasus deliberately tried to muddy the water between S106 and new-homes bonus money. The £1.7m that they referred to was their calculation of potential new-homes bonus. This cannot be ring fenced by the council and it is extremely unlikely that Shipston will see any of it.
3. Impact on Town Viability / Tesco Profits
We have a viable and vibrant town centre that most Shipston residents are proud of. It has been made clear through a number of independent studies that should such a supermarket be allowed there would be a significant impact on the existing trade within the town centre, leading to closures and job losses of unacceptable proportions and an irrevocable demise of our historic core. Assertions that a supermarket would ‘claw back’ some of the trade lost to other surrounding towns are inaccurate. A large proportion of main shopping already takes place outside the town and this would continue to be the case, due to convenience (the majority of Shipston’s residents commute outside the town and do their main shop in the big towns anyway) and range – such a proposed store will not offer the range of shopping residents have in the larger towns. The risk to existing trade in the town and subsequent job losses has been clearly identified as a major concern by our traders and by local business support organisations. The argument of a ‘Tesco’ bringing lost income back into the town is clearly wrong, just ask yourselves where that income will go – not into the hands of anyone in the town, unless they have shares in Tesco!
4. Visual Impact
We live in the country. The reason that most Shipston residents live in Shipston is that they like our town. It is a working market town, surrounded by beautiful countryside. The visual impact of developing a greenfield site will severely impact on the town and its setting within the natural valley in which it has always been settled. Don’t let these developers spoil our beautiful town!
We all remember the tremendous impact the 2007 floods had on the town. Many of our residents can recall the torrents of water running down Campden Road. Imagine what this will be like if all the additional run-off from acres and acres of new development is included.
6. The Southam Example
The idea that this development will aid and support the town centre is laughable. Talk of £500,000 ‘bribes’ to help mitigate the impact of the scheme a) clearly demonstrate that there will be a huge impact on the town centre and b) show the level of profits that the supermarkets expect, if they can fund that kind of support. In reality, even such a seemingly large sum would not go very far – Tesco’s strategy is to eliminate any competition, for example, so they will ensure that any support is limited to their purposes. How long before the supermarket decides they have a captive audience and puts up prices to the levels at Stow – it’s the way they do business and why they are so profitable. In Southam, despite the alleged £500,000 support the town centre is dead on a Saturday afternoon, and the impact on the existing traders and vitality of their town is such that it has prompted one of their ex-Town Councillors to state ‘I supported the decision for a supermarket, but having seen what effect it has had on the town, I now severely regret that decision’.
7. Cumulative Impact
As councillors you all know that local government rules are there to be broken. Once a precedent is set, how long do you think it will take for the local planners to decide that infill and associated developments are not only acceptable, in keeping and complementary, but in fact could help towards meeting additional district-wide housing targets?
8. Extra Care Homes
There is no dispute that care for the elderly is of increasing importance, but what has not been considered or determined is how much support does Shipston need? ASL’s development could go a long way towards Warwickshire County Council’s objective of providing 500 Extra Care homes throughout the county, but what does Shipston need and how could this be better served from a much more practical location? Unless we want to build an isolated old people’s village up a hill away from the town centre, then the distance and climb of this location in relation to the town centre is not sensible.
9. Impact on infrastructure / roads
As with all such development proposals, the impact on our existing infrastructure will continue to increase. Whatever the S106 requirement imposed on the developers, it will not provide sufficient school places, medical facilities or drains to cope with the increased burdens from the new developments, let alone alleviate some of the existing issues we have. Take the B4035/A429 Portobello junction as an example. The new development will add to the danger of this junction, yet ASL are not offering any support. It will be down to us as local taxpayers to sort it out long after they have returned up North!
The issues that this proposed development will create are immense. We have but touched on a few here. We urge the council to maintain their stance against this speculative development application by a property developer who by their very nature are only interested in the profits they can make from our town. We urge the Council to identify properly our requirements for our town and take charge of our own destiny.
Shipston’s Heart Alive! Campaign