Is all this building sustainable?

23 June 2019

Why are so many houses being built in Stafford? As a newly elected councillor, I am beginning to find out. Of course, it is a nice place to live, and people want to live here, but the major increases in housing are taking away many of our green spaces, putting extra traffic on the roads, removing wildlife habitat, including many trees and in short, making it a worse environment for people and wildlife.

So why has the council agreed to so many houses, shops and commercial buildings being built? There are several answers. Firstly, the Government has changed the national planning framework to enable more buildings to be approved. Secondly, while the Borough has always gained financially from new buildings – more council tax etc and money give for local services, the Government has deliberately offered big financial incentives to accept development by withdrawing the grant it had previously given ( a cut of over 70% so far) but offering additional money if there is extra development in the area. The bottom line is that in order to keep their jobs, council staff have had to promote growth through new building.

It might be argued that we need more housing – and especially affordable homes. We do, but much of this could be achieved by putting money into renovating existing houses in inner cities and building on brownfield sites.

Previously, governments would set an allocation of new housing and then ask the regions to decide how much would be happening in different parts of the area. Money was also used to improve the environment in these places. All that has been scrapped and instead, developers have been given the green light to go for greenfield sites. It seems that making money is what matters most when it comes to housing.

 

Cllr Tony Pearce

Stafford Borough Councillor for Doxey and Castletown