By Councillor Peter Thirlwall
I have always said that a criticism is only as good as the alternative that it replaces. Well I would like to suggest the following alternative to the proposed greenbelt incursion ( LDF ) being offered by the Rotherham Labour Group:
(1) Remove the ‘Growth Points Status’ of 2,200 houses which was entered into by the Leader of Rotherham Council, along with other council leaders of South Yorkshire. It is understood that Sheffield, for instance, can accommodate their ‘Growth Point’ housing numbers without the need to use greenbelt land at all. It’s a shame, but not entirely unpredictable, that Councillor Roger Stone didn’t take the time to check what effect it would have upon Rotherham and its residents, before he committed us to the ‘Growth Point’ agreement.
(2) The number of houses that the Government say that we will need in Rotherham by 2026 is 22,300. In the Government calculations they have assumed that 11,150 of those houses will be required for people emigrating into Rotherham from other parts of the country. I believe this figure is ridiculously high and should be reduced by 5,575 houses i.e. from 50% to 25%.
(3) If the amount of houses needed were reduced in accordance with (1) and (2) above, then the industrial land needed could also be reduced by around 82 hectares.
(4) The council have assumed a building density of between 30 to 40 dwellings per hectare, but the planning guidance says it should be between 30 to 50 dwellings per hectare and I therefore believe that figure, should be used so we can accommodate more houses on the precious land that we have.
If we could achieve the above, I believe we could avoid building in the green belt at all, other than the bits of scrubland that have no amenity value. Although I don’t have access to all of the figures and the ones quoted are not strictly accurate, they are I believe in the right ball park.(5) We should trawl the Borough again to find more brownfield sites, which includes talking to Corus and also our neighbouring Councils, to see if they have any brownfield sites on their borders that could be used in our calculations.
In the past, Rotherham has not been able to build houses at the rate at which the Government required and it is very unlikely that we will be able to so in the future, so the outcomes of the LDF are fairly academic. We certainly do not therefore want to give up our green belt based on the whims and fancies of a few statisticians in Whitehall, and their obedient servants at Rotherham Council.
Not all of what I have suggested may be achievable, but I do hope that the Labour Group will at least consider, for a change, the points that I have made with a view to making Rotherham a better place to live.
Independent Parliamentary Candidate