Most of you will have seen that this has started, as the fields around Westend are being ripped up to make way for the new ‘spine’ road into the new estate and for the huge drainage attenuation ponds that such a dense building plan makes necessary. We understand that houses must be built as people need homes, but we grieve for our green fields and our rural character none-the-less.
In the development MasterPlan (based on the Local and Neighbourhood Plans) we were, at least, promised that there would be ‘Structural Landscape Buffers’ to separate and protect the integrity of our hamlets Westend and Nupend . The detailed plans submitted by Redrow have consistently ignored this, and have shown building right up to existing residents’ gardens. As a result of serious and justified protests from the Parish Council and many individuals, Redrow have now submitted new plans which only address part of the site, leaving the question of the buffer zones for later consideration ( possibly even with a different builder). We cautiously take this as a good sign.
The presence of the huge construction machinery begins to bring home the sheer scale of this development compared to the existing surroundings. It is starting to sink in that this will not just be the gentle addition to the Parish and village that previous developments, like Swallowcroft, have been, but will completely dwarf the existing ‘Eastington’.
There are currently around 750 houses in the whole Parish of Eastington – which includes the village of Alkerton and the all surrounding hamlets – as we have always illustrated on the front cover of ECN . The new development, (shaded) in just one small corner of the Parish will contain approx. 1,350 houses. This will therefore be like a new village/town with twice the population of the existing village, and very different in character.
If we accommodate the new buildings within the existing local government administrative set-up, the Parish Council would need to grow to be a committee of at least 19 members, and their priorities would, naturally enough, lie with the majority of the population – i.e. in the new development.
In order to retain the meaning of the word ‘Eastington’ as we know it, and to preserve the community spirit and administrative scale that we are used to, the Parish Council will be considering supporting the idea of the new estates becoming part of Stonehouse (with which they will be much more closely aligned) rather than of ‘Eastington’. The new development is actually described as ‘an urban extension to Stonehouse’ in the Local Plan. ECN applauds this idea, and would hope that the ‘buffer zones’ , yet to be determined, could form a part of a new Parish boundary.
If the Parish Council adopts the idea, then there will be a public consultation.