Thursday, 4 February 2016

In The Witness Box

After weeks of submissions at the Public Planning Appeals Inquiry in Woodbridge for and against the enormous planning applications for Framlingham I got the chance to have my own say today.

I went into what the Inspector calls the 'Witness Box' and put in my own twopence worth. My speech follows. Unlike other members of the public who have spoken at the Inquiry, I wasn't subjected to cross examination by the Appellants Barristers. This means that they either found my arguments insignificant or, hopefully, impossible to argue against.

Here's what I said. The statistics supporting my claims are below the speech.

"My name is John Brassey and I am speaking independently as a resident of Framlingham.

"I have listened to legal arguments put forward by some of the most brilliant minds that money can buy over the last few weeks and, whilst I don’t expect you to ignore the legalities of the cases put forward both for and against the development in Framlingham I ask the Inspectorate to apply just one rule in making a decision – the rule of common sense.

My wife Marion and I ran a successful manufacturing business that grew steadily over the years to a point where we were able to sell the company and retire. I stress the word gradually. Few people will argue that Framlingham does not need to grow but it is the pace and the size of the growth proposed that belies common sense.

Before we grew our business we put into place the necessary groundwork to do so – plant and machinery, staff, IT, training, vehicles and finance. But Framlingham is being asked to grow with no groundwork at all. The necessary infrastructure is not in place.

If all the developments on the table were to go ahead, the town would be facing a near instant increase in housing of almost 28%*1. My family hails from Southport which recently approved the building of seven hundred new homes – the largest ever development in the town’s history but that massive and controversial development is only double the number planned for Framlingham and just four times the Fairfield Rd proposals in a town with a population of 90,000*2 – over twenty-nine times the size of Framlingham, Our county town Ipswich grew in population between the last two censuses by 13.8%*3 over a period of TEN years- sensible and manageable growth. If proposals were made to increase Ipswich by 28% (which equates to the building of over 16,000 new homes) with no new education, public transport, roads or medical facilities in place, those proposals would simply be laughed out of court.

And yet such an increase is being proposed for our town in just a few years. The law of common sense says that these proposals are quite outrageous folly. The eloquent legal minds will depart this inquiry shortly having made their cases to change our future but it will not be them trying to book an appointment at an oversubscribed surgery, it will not be them playing Framlingham’s equivalent of musical chairs looking for a parking space on a Saturday in the CO-OP car park and it will not be them listening to a popular historic tourist destination reverberating to the noise of heavy plant and machinery from three sites for the foreseeable future.

This Inquiry has heard that Framlingham can support significant growth. The Station Rd development alone at one new home for every thirteen households*4 is significant growth, add on the 95 homes in Mount Pleasant and the growth at one new home for every 6.7*4 households is much more than significant. Take this in the context that the UK is expected to grow in population by 6.8%*5 in the next decade and you can see how disproportionate these proposals are. The town needs to grow. It needs to grow at a realistic and sensible pace. The size of these proposals is not only unrealistic it is ludicrously so. Common sense says that this should not go ahead and I am sure that the Planning Inspectorate will apply common sense in reaching its decision.

Source of statistics.

*1.2011 Census Framlingham population 3,086 in 1,302 households.

Station Road                        99 homes
Mount Pleasant                  100 homes
Farifield Road                     163 homes

Total                                    362 new homes/households      

Calculation 362/1302 = 0.278 rounded up to 28%

*2 Southport population 2011 Census 90,381

*3 Ipswich population 2011 Census 133,384

*4 Framlingham households 2011 Census 1302

Station Rd Site 99 homes = one new home for every 13.1 households
Add Mount Pleasant 95 homes = 194 homes or one new home for every 6.7 households.

*5 Source of data BBC News website 29 October 2015

“The Office for National Statistics said the population was expected to increase by 4.4 million in the next decade, before reaching 70 million in 2027.
That increase is roughly the size of the Irish Republic.
The population is projected to grow by 9.7 million over the next 25 years, to 74.3 million.
Latest figures show there are 64.6 million people in the UK.”

64.6 +4.4 = 69 million or 6.8% increase"