Wanted: Local Plan

Fields across the Cotswolds are at risk from unplanned development thanks to the Cotswolds Tories.

That’s the latest news, as the Conservative-run Cotswold District Council (CDC) falls behind around 70% of districts which have a draft ‘Local Plan’ in place – the blueprint which dictates where development should go.

Now, in breaking news, the Council has also been criticised by planning inspectors for failing to have enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy demand (called a ‘5 year housing supply’).

Planning bosses in Bristol overturned a decision not to allow new housing in Fairford by waving through another large development there despite opposition locally. Their main reason was CDC’s lack of a proper housing supply.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Prospective MP for the Cotswolds, is leading the fight to protect our countryside:

“When you consider that our area is unique and special, it beggars belief that the current MP and those who run our local Council have allowed this situation to happen.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

“They knew years ago that a new Local Plan was needed but have put developers in the driving seat by leaving the Cotswolds exposed.

“Instead of allowing – where practical – small-scale developments to be built in villages across the district which have asked for them, the Tories have left the gate wide open.

“Now, our unique communities like Bourton, Stow, Tetbury and Moreton, as well as Cirencester, are faced with lots of extra houses but with no real improvement in services.”

“Whilst thousands of holiday homes have been built in our area by CDC, the housing crisis gets worse. The Cotswolds has the biggest gap between wages and house prices outside London, so something has to change.

“The emphasis now should be on affordable homes in the right places and where they are needed.

“That will help people live near to their families and friends instead of being forced to move away.”

Shock figures reveal Cotswolds homes crisis

A new set of figures shows the mountain people face when buying a house in the Cotswolds.

Houses like this are out of the reach of many younger people in the Cotswolds.

Houses like this are out of the reach of many younger people in the Cotswolds.

The National Housing Federation’s latest report on housing in the South West shows the Cotswolds as the most expensive place to live in the region.

The average house in the Cotswolds will set you back an eye £336,935 whilst the average salary in the area is just £18,762 a year.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds, says the figures are alarming:

“The Cotswolds is often seen as a playground for the rich and famous, but the reality is very different. With wages well below the national average and the average house price twice that of nearby Gloucester the affordability gap is getting bigger and bigger. We have to find a way to build small scale affordable developments in line with what local villages and towns want.

“The problem is made so much worse by Tory-run Cotswold District Council’s dreadful lack of an up to date Local Plan as developers are simply ploughing ahead in a totally unplanned way.

“To add insult to injury, the Council’s administration has permitted thousands of holiday homes over the last decade. I’m astonished that Conservative bosses can be so out of touch with the reality of the situation for so many people living in our area.”

“Instead of concreting over the Water Park with thousands of holiday homes, the Council leaders should be sorting out small scale developments of affordable homes in villages and towns which need them.

“For those aged under 40 in particular the Cotswolds is fast becoming off limits for housing – that is an intolerable situation.”

Apprentice Week boosts opportunities in the Cotswolds

National Apprentice Week was held last week and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is already seeing a boost in opportunities for young people in the Cotswolds.

Jordan McKenna (left) with Paul Hodgkinson in Cirencester.

Jordan McKenna (left) with Paul Hodgkinson in Cirencester.

Speaking in Cirencester, Cllr Hodgkinson sees the initiative as a way of getting people into jobs:

“The huge increase in the number of apprentices since the Lib Dems came into Government is something to really celebrate. In the Cotswolds there have been many new apprenticeships each year since 2010. There can be a pressure to go to university but apprenticeships offer a way for young people to get a skill or foot in the door with a company which then translates into a job.

Cllr Hodgkinson, the Prospective MP for the area, met with one successful apprentice in Cirencester this week to talk about how he had made the transition from apprentice to full time employee.

Jordan McKenna, 21, was taken on as an apprentice by Cirencester Housing Society and is now working permanently for the organisation as a Housing Officer. Mr McKenna described his experience as ‘a great way to get into the industry’.

Latest figures for the Cotswolds show that over a thousand apprentices have been taken on by local companies since the Coalition Government was formed. Cllr Hodgkinson welcomed the change:

“Meeting Jordan showed me just how positive this can be. I know from speaking to local bosses that they would like to take on apprentices and I will continue to work for more opportunities like this to be created.”

 

 

 

 

Plans afoot for Fortey House

A building which has been empty for 5 years is set to be redeveloped.

Paul Hodgkinson (left) with Neil Fletcher outside Fortey House in Northleach.

Paul Hodgkinson (left) with Neil Fletcher outside Fortey House in Northleach.

Fortey House, Northleach, provided sheltered accommodation for local people but has been derelict with the large building lying unfilled.

Now, Bromford, who own the site, have announced plans to demolish the site and build 24 affordable homes. The homes – yet to be given planning permission – will comprise rented properties, part rent/part ownership and some to be sold at 80% of market value.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson heard the announcement at a meeting of Northleach Town Council last week, “We really need more affordable homes in the area and Fortey House has been a sad sight for ages. I’m pleased something is being done at last but does the building really need to be demolished?”

Bromford are holding an open day at the Cotswold Hall, Northleach, on 7 July. People are being urged to take a look and give feedback.

 

 

 

Hope for Fortey House at last?

A Northleach building which has been empty for years may at last be full of residents.

Paul Hodgkinson (left) with Neil Fletcher outside Fortey House in Northleach.

Paul Hodgkinson (left) with Neil Fletcher outside Fortey House in Northleach.

Fortey House saw the last of its housing association tenants leave in April 2010 and has since lain empty. The 12-bedroom building is owned by Bromford.

The town council has discussed a possible plan for The Farmington Trust to link up with other individuals to buy Fortey House from Bromford and convert it into affordable housing for local people.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cotswold District Council, is supporting the proposal, “Across the Cotswolds there is a huge gap between wages and house prices. A recent survey by the National Housing Federation showed that this area is the most expensive in the South West. The average house price is a staggering 20 times more than the average salary.”

“So, making sure empty homes are used for low cost accommodation for young and old in particular is really important. This is a prime example.”

Neil Fletcher, Chair of Northleach Town Council is also supporting the scheme: “The housing association wanted to knock it down and build affordable homes but there was no government grant and it dropped the idea. As a town council, we can’t afford to buy it, but the Trust could and then rent it out. We would support the development and put it on our town plan.”

Cllr Hodgkinson added, “It’s sad to see a building lying empty when there is such a crying need for housing. I really hope this idea takes off and we get some much-needed low cost housing in the town.”