Grove Farm and Co-op "elephants in the room" at neighbourhood planning feedback meeting
Around 40 Stradbroke residents were at the Community Centre last night to hear the results of market research carried out by David Spenser on behalf of the neighbourhood plan.
David met with eight groups of five or six Stradbroke residents of all ages from teenagers to retired people and told the small but interested hall that he was struck by the similarity of views expressed by residents. Unusually the views united the age groups and "life stages".
Key areas of agreement he found were:
- People are proud of Stradbroke and its facilities
- People want Stradbroke to remain a small friendly working village and not turn into a small town
- People wanted the views and rural character of the village retained and not to see all the open space in-filled
- Schools and shops were seen as critical to the village
- Most felt Stradbroke was "on the up" after a difficult period when the shop and post office closed
- Many supported new development if it was small, gradual and sympathetic to the existing character of the village
- Traffic, especially on Queen Street was seen as huge issue that needs to be addressed
- Divisions between individuals are distracting from sorting out issues on the Parish Council
- Poor mobile phone signals, broadband and public transport hamper development opportunities for Stradbroke and create a "perfect storm" especially for younger people
The consensus was clear. Grove Farm was seen as too big and the co-op as a safety risk to children as a result of traffic.
Asked what the Parish Council would do given the fact both these developments would come for planning consent before the neighbourhood plan came into effect Olly Last the Council's Vice-Chair and Planning lead did not really have an answer.
But the answer is clear as the day if the Council wants to represent the views of Stradbroke residents. It needs to strongly oppose both developments. I said this back in December in my blog post Can the Parish Council build consensus on development in Stradbroke.
This ought to be a no-brainer for councillors. Public opinion is clear and it is an election year but the involvement and previous positions taken by some members of the council in these plans sadly makes it far from certain that this is what the council will do.