These dimensions are: economic, social and environmental. These give rise to the need for the planning system to perform a number of roles:
According to the National Planning Policy Framework, plans and approvals must be realistic and sustainable.
They should include strategic policies to deliver:
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Sustainable Wantage suggests that we need to ensure that the developments proceed in the context of the national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and all that implies for housing, transport, local employment and sustainability.
The legally binding 80% target is enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2008, with an intermediate target of 34% reduction relative to 1990 by 2020 and 50% by 2025 . The National Planning Policy Framework requires that development is implemented in line with the requirements of the Act. To achieve such reductions requires a fundamental rethink of the town planning, such that housing proceeds in tandem with local job creation, transport infrastructure reduces journeys and moves away from carbon-intensive options and developments achieve the highest standards of energy and environmental sustainability.
In the local plan, all jobs are going to concentrated in the Science Vale with the exception of an area of mixed use development on the Monks Farm site (similar in size to the Grove Business park). This is 10 miles from Wantage and it is expected that most people will drive to work. Our emissions from road transport are higher than any other district in the South East and an additional 7500 people driving to work will only make this worse!
Few of the jobs have materialised yet.
None of our roads are wide enough to allow anyone to safely overtake a cyclist without crossing the white line and getting in the way of on-coming traffic.
There may be enhancements to Featherbed Lane and Rowstock Roundabout and both the Airfield and Crab Hill may include some Bypass Roads but no widening of existing roads out of town for bus stops or cyclists.
Wantage and Grove have no school places available.
When the Council approved 200 houses at Stockham Park Farm, they said it would be OK to bus children to available places until the schools proposed on the Airfield are built. Planning permission for the Airfield has not been applied for yet.
They didn’t even mention schools when discussing the application for 85 houses on Chain Hill.
Even if and when we have new schools they are going to be on the edge of the town in the Airfield development and on Crab Hill so a long walk for primary school children.
There is no mention of medical facilities in the Local Plan.
The two practices in the Health Centre in Mably Way, Newbury Street and Church Street, are both essentially full. Grove is the only practice with any theoretical space but not on it's current site so they would like to add a 'Grove' wing to Mably Way to provide the most appropriate provision for the area taking account of any growth. But there is currently a planning application submitted to build a residential care home where this extension would go.
There may be leisure facilities and green spaces in the plans for the Airfield but we haven’t heard anything about more allotments or any enhancements to the Wantage Leisure centre.
In the shorter term all new houses should be built to exceed minimum energy and carbon standards in Building Regulations. They should be seeking to achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 rating.
Building Regulations set a minimum standard for energy performance and we believe that the VWHDC should be aiming to achieve much higher standards for new housing in the Vale, especially as reducing energy consumption from the outset ensures savings over the lifetime of the buildings and ensures lifetime savings for the occupants. The Government will soon be setting the revised standards for 2013 but we firmly believe that the Vale should be seeking to exceed these with the aim of achieving “zero carbon” status for new housing at the earliest opportunity (it will become mandatory from 2016). In the interim achieving a Level 4 rating under the Code for Sustainable Homes would indicate the Vale’s commitment towards reducing carbon emissions from new housing without putting the developers at a significant financial disadvantage.