Here in Eastington we are well aware of the threat posed to William Morris College by the Ecotricity plans. The original proposal, to build a huge football stadium right on William Morris’s doorstep would have been catastrophic for the college. The new proposal (not yet fully disclosed) is to move the planned football stadium just across the road to the site north of the A419, and leave to site south of the A419 ‘open’, just waiting for more favourable planning conditions to build a business park there. Neither of these prospects bring any comfort at all to the college.
Over recent weeks, both the work and the plight of the threatened College have been highlighted with two important visitors.
In October, Gloucestershire County Council leader Cllr Mark Hawthorne visited William Morris College, saying “I felt it was important to see for myself what effect the proposed development might have on the college. I found it inspiring to meet the staff and students and see the important work they are involved in.” He was able to see that the college provides essential learning and independence skills for young people with learning difficulties and major conditions including severe autism, and that if the business park were ever to be built, the disruption would be massive – shattering the oasis of calm necessary for young people who are extremely vulnerable to any disruption.
Cllr Hawthorne also strongly rejected claims by Dale Vince that county council highways has been dragging its feet over the planning application. He said it was a “complicated application and serious reservations had been raised about the impact on the local transport network.”
In November, Jo-Anne Bradford of KER, along with other members of the group and Stroud Green Councillor Martin Whiteside met with our Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato. They were able to voice the concerns of the community regarding the Ecotricity proposals and to accompany her on a visit to William Morris College.
Molly began by saying “As a Green Party we shouldn’t always jump to protect any new development as we loose credibility, but we should question if the development is justifiable….. “ The visit to William Morris college certainly reinforced the point that this development cannot be considered as justifiable. Well done Eastington!
Our hot-off-the-press Local Plan is already under review. The plan undergoes a rolling five-year review and Stroud planners are starting to consider what should be in the plan come 2021.
Part of this review is an exercise known as ‘SALA’ – Strategic Assessment of Land Availability. This is a ‘desk’ study wherein planners study a map and without regard to any ‘human’ considerations simply pinpoint areas that geographically look as thought they might be suitable for ‘development’. This is done in order to calculate their ‘buffer stock’ of potential housing and employment land, which legally they have to maintain. Sadly, of course, builders and developers take it to mean that they have every right to expect to be allowed to build there, and defending the places identified in this manner becomes very much more difficult.
The Ecotricity sites have been included in this process. The only way to try to protect valued sites from almost guaranteed development in the future is to prevent their inclusion in the updated Plan. You can object to Stroud DC if you want to protect these sites . Write to “Local Plan Review, The Planning Strategy Team, Stroud District Council, Ebley Mill, Stroud GL5 4UB” and describe why these sites are important to you, or what other areas in the district might be more beneficially developed.
This consultation phase closes on 5th December – Please do not delay.
Please see the KER website keepeastingtonrural.wordpress.com for more details