As now reported in both local papers, several members of the Trust went to the recent Local Engagement Forum meeting this month, and heard (among other things) a presentation by Mike Cosgrove giving his view of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan for the Creekside. This was a useful talk as it laid out some of the background and the way the government expects the process to go forward.
He made it very clear that when this process reaches its Referendum stage next year, unless there is at least 50% endorsement of the Plan, it will fall away and we will have no plan – ie. any developer will be able to put in any proposal without guidelines in place, and our precious waterside sites will be unprotected. To us, this looks like a win-win for any developers: if their proposals are incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan which is rejected as a result, they get a clear scope to proceed without a Plan in place. Can this be right?
We were disappointed by the limited scope of the ‘vision’ for the Creek as he presented it – their ideal seemed to be creekside path and moorings, a maritime flavour to the development of the 100 housing units near the Creek, and marine twiddles on the buildings. This looks very out-of-date and tame in comparison to our idea for the economic regeneration of the Creekside especially in the Basin, and with ongoing commercial benefits for the whole town. We will have to make our case more clearly.
We were also disappointed by his replies to questions asking when the public responses to the May consultation exercise would be published (as promised). It is very odd that they have not, and apparently do not wish to publish the result of this survey. Mike Cosgrove said 900, then 800, people had taken part – so why can we not see what everyone said? We gave our opinions on the basis that they would publish the results.
There were some frustrated and angry questions put to the meeting, none of which reached any resolution. Personally I deplore this raised-voice method of communication, but there is no doubt, there is a difference of opinion between some of the people facilitating the Plan process and a great body of local people. This has to be resolved, and in detail. So much is at stake.