By Chris Cornell / Homes for EveryoneHousing / 0 Comments

There’s a whole industry out there geared up to reducing the amount developers have to agree too, after planning given. If you put in on line, viability assessments under section 106 agreements, up shoots the law firms bidding for developer’s attention. Local Authorities strapped for cash, weighing up weather to challenge these very persuasive arguments based on developer’s profit margins. Yes, the forcefulness these firms put into the stripping communities of what little assets they get. So who what is the culprit here?

The developer with their need for 20% profit margin or is it a bit of gentrification set out to keep house prices high, then the local authorities for lack of stamina to face up to their duties for the communities they represent, the law firms just taking advantage of a situation under guises of doing best by client. Then there’s the landowner whom invariable does little to the infrastructure that creates high land value yet gets the most without sharing in their gains. This needs to change.

Councils, developers, landowners and the communities where they’re planning to build, need to come together with a forward thinking plan that all agree on at the outset, leaving none of the parties feeling aggrieved at outcomes, allowing the development of a community, not a building site just for profit.

Affordable homes does not just have to be the burden of the developer, this can be a shared responsibility with the community led housing approach; such as a community land trust being give the land that is set aside under section 106 agreements, that they may work with their chosen leaseholder partners both within the rented and affordable homeownership fields, the likes of mutual cooperative housing groups, not for profit housing associations, co-housing and affordable self build groups for first time buyers,. All of this builds communities not separating and doesn’t need to wait for a change in the local / national planning act, a forward thinking community applying this approach, can start the wealth building that communities require for the future diversity of living.

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Labour campaigners braved the drizzle this afternoon outside Wincheap Primary School, to raise support for an issue close to locals’ hearts. In July 2017, Wincheap Park received a long-overdue re-vamp, transforming it into a venue that has become very popular with children and parents alike. Walk past it on a sunny day after school closing time and the numbers speak for themselves. Until, that is, a child requires a trip to the toilet. The former toilet block on the site served the main road for a number of years, until recent problems with drug use closed it permanently, resulting in the sale of the site. Currently, children either opt to return home, which is sometimes a considerable walk, or to go behind the bushes. Labour’s campaign, to encourage the Council to “spend a penny” was well-received by parents at the school gates, who recognise the need for the toilets’ return.

Campaign leader Paul Todd understands the difficulties facing parents due to the lack of facilities. “Being a father of four children,” said Mr Todd, “all of whom attended Wincheap Primary and made good use of the park over the years, the closure of the toilets means that this wonderful resource is being under-utilised. I’m passionate about putting it back on the Council’s agenda.”

While the site is currently in private hands, the building stands vacant, unkempt and over-grown. If the existing toilets could not be returned to Council ownership, space exists for an alternative block, or even a single toilet, within the park boundaries, subject to its opening hours. Unmanned toilets have been a success at Toddlers’ Cove and in the Dane John Gardens, where ultraviolet lights have addressed the issue of drug use. While the Council may consider Wincheap’s park to be on a smaller scale, of interest only to locals, the issue is a matter of quite some importance for parents, and the nature of the busy A28 means the park also attracts passers-by. Labour campaigners will be submitting their arguments, and the petition, to the Council in the coming weeks

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