Kingsbridge Town Councillors have said that the proposed Joint Local Plan “ignores what we need” as they “refuse to endorse it”.
The Joint Local Plan proposes 395 houses in Kingsbridge, 75 per cent of which are located within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Kingsbridge Town Council were asked to feedback on it to South Hams District Council.
Cllr Robin Griffin said: “The Joint Local Plan ignores what we need and there is a blackmail element - ‘let us build these or you don’t get the others’ from developers. We can’t afford to approve it, we’ll be lumbered with this for the next 20 years, we need to challenge it and refuse to endorse it.”
Cllr Griffin went through feedback comments made at a previous planning meeting, including that the JLP included “buzzwords and empty statements with no consequence”.
“Where does the JLP leave us in regard to Kingsbridge Town Council’s aim of establishing low cost housing?”
Talking about the proposed development of the Quayside, he said “Kingsbridge Town Council and the Kingsbridge community appear to be being held to ransom in making affordable/community housing development contingent on unnecessary and inappropriate high-end commercial buildings”.
He added that “the term ‘affordable housing’ is a misnomer, especially when looking at our specific corner of the JLP region, where mean housing proving is considerably higher than other areas.
“With affordable housing being 80 per cent of market value, this will continue to put new housing out of the reach of many indigenous buyers and those who wish to put their first step on the housing ladder locally.”
He added: “I know people on this council who would go and not lie down in front of the diggers, but would go down and start the digging if it was going to give houses to our people, but those same people turned and said that this is a crock of c**p really.”
Other comments from the councillors about the plan include: “30 per cent affordable housing is too low, however, this housing is not truly affordable. When an ‘affordable’ three bedroom home in an outlying development is priced at £280,000, retiring a 10 per cent deposit of £30,000 and a £250,000 mortgage to maintain.”
“The main need in Kingsbridge is local homes for local people, i.e. affordable homes and small housing - one to two bedroom - for young people wanting to get on the housing ladder, and older people looking to downsize.”
“The JLP seems to be proposing to build housing in Kingsbridge for the sake of it, without being appropriate to need in form or quantity.”
“In summary, Kingsbridge Town Council feels that the JLP for our community is flawed and inadequately thought through in regard to the type, affordability and density of housing to ensure a sustainable Kingsbridge in the future.”
Cllr Chris Povey, Mayor of Kingsbridge, said: “Thanks to members who put the work into the response to the JLP, because I think the level of response was far more thorough than the work that went into the JLP.
He added that Tom Jones, from South Hams Council, wanted to attend the meeting on May 16, to discuss the council’s JLP feedback.
He agreed with the council’s “robust response” and reiterated that Cllr Griffin had said to him “how can we sit there in the future and haven’t given the tough response that needs to be given to these things and just let it pass?”
After a meeting with a South Hams District Council representative on Tuesday night, Cllr Robin Griffin said that they were “even more determined not to be shackled to something that doesn’t fulfill the needs of the people of Kingsbridge.”
He said that they are “passionate about low cost and social housing for rent and we are going ahead with attempts to set up a trust to build homes for local people” and that “we need to find another way to do this and we are determined to do that”.
You can attend Kingsbridge Town Council meetings, which are all public, and you can find out when meetings take place on their website: kingsbridge.gov.uk/council/meeting-diary/ or by calling the town council on: 01548 853296.
Full town council meetings, which receive reports from all committees, are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm in Quay House.