Monday, 26 June 2017

Et in Arcadia ego… (part II)

As I pointed out in my previous post on the proposed Tysoe Neighbourhood Development Plan, my request for copies of the Representation Form in alternate formats for those of us who are disabled not only fell on fallow ground, but were deliberately deleted from the Tysoe Parish & Community website. As I cannot complete either the online form, or the paper one, I am therefore asserting my right – under the Equality Act 2010 – to provide my Pre-Submission Regulation 14 Consultation feedback in an alternate format – namely by way of this blog post, and all the other blog posts I have written on the subject, listed below:

Please note that should all these comments once more vanish into the ether, and not be appended as “evidence” to the version of the Neighbourhood Development Plan submitted for inspection, I shall ensure – through whatever channels are available to me – that they are put forward to the relevant bodies both as proof of long-term opposition to the Plan’s approval, methodologies and non-democratic nature; and as testimony to the fallacy of the supposed “consultation” that has been falsely promoted within the Plan itself (as most villagers would concur).

Laughingly, on the Form, we are asked to “Please state to which part of the Draft Neighbourhood Plan [our] representation refers.” As it should rapidly become clear to any reader of the above posts, I am actually “objecting” to the whole – especially the way it has been put together by a self-selecting succession of people who obviously do not understand what such a plan is, or could be; nor its potential role in unifying the village. Instead – as is obvious from its sites of proposed destruction, er, development; and the sudden cries of horrified reaction to those sites… – the Plan, in its current (and I presume ultimate) form, is being used as a tool to divide and conquer the various communities that exist within the Parish. (For what reasons, I can only speculate. But none of them fill me with any joy.)

That those “communities” have only realized at the eleventh hour the threat to their daily lives which the Plan embodies should be taken as the most definitive proof that any previous publicity re the Plan has not been effective in communicating its content (nor, I suspect, was it ever meant to be). Their reaction should – once and for all – put a stop to the Plan’s lurching progress: as it is obviously not what the majority of residents understood it to be; nor wanted; nor needed. (Why, when these sites were proposed, were the affected locals/neighbours not asked about their feelings? Especially one, like Roses Farmhouse, on Epwell Road, that will again ruin – as with Windmill Way – another local footpath.)

Its creators should immediately put the poorly-constructed thing out of our misery; and then explain why the horrendous cost of its egomaniacal assembly has not been used on other more fitting, and much-needed, projects – that is, ones that would have benefited the village, not destroyed it.

I know my words will fall, once more, unheeded: as I obviously do not have the budget to promote my blog equivalent to even a tiny fraction of that which has been so scandalously squandered. However, for the few that do read this (preferably in light of my previous thoughts, listed above), let me first sum up what I think is missing from the Plan:

  • Heart.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Foresight.
  • Imagination.
  • Mostly people: their needs, desires; their views; their presence – the plan comes across as being written for the few by the few.
  • Any evidence of compassion for – actually, not even consideration of – those not lucky enough to have savings and a large disposable income after paying for housing.
  • Any evidence of having looked outside the authors’ bubble… of what the plan actually requires, and should consist of – this includes the political and the social.
  • Any sign of (even a hint of) humility; of admitting that its authors may not know the answers.

…but mostly, it is that absence of the voices of the large majority of the 1,200 or so souls that live here which troubles me most: that ‘absence of presence’, if you will. Had every single person in the village been able to sit down and have a chat with their local ‘street champion’, I am sure we would not be seeing the likes of the Save Upper Tysoe campaign. Because their opinions have been disregarded – if not outright ignored – people feel excluded; that they count for naught.

We are a third of the way through the period the plan covers, I am told: and yet half of the maximum/proposed houses have been already built. (And not even the greatest NDP in the world could have “saved” or “protected” – as the Plan’s proponents of doublethink keep proclaiming – us from the sterility of Orchard Close; or the sheer unimaginative boxiness of the new Church Farm development.)

I have said it all before. Nothing changed then. And nothing will change now. So here is someone-else’s opinion:

In December [2016], a written ministerial statement was made [on neighbourhood planning]. In the first paragraph, it stated: “Recent analysis suggests that giving people more control over development in their area is helping to boost housing supply – those plans in force that plan for a housing number have on average planned for approximately 10 per cent more homes than the number for that area set out by the relevant local planning authority.”

Yup. Let someone develop a Neighbourhood Plan for you; and they will ensure you get even more houses than those villages without one! Brilliant! Anyway, later in the same article…

[It] is actually quite sad that communities have missed a glorious opportunity here. Neighbourhood plans provided a clear path for communities to improve their lot, and increase sustainability by stopping people having to move away to satisfy their changing housing needs, reducing the fragmentation of families and the need for travel. New development in communities brings a greater critical mass, enabling more shops, pubs and community services to be viable. Younger people would be able to get on the housing ladder and care could be provided for the elderly in the community…. Instead, the process has been hijacked. As [someone] has said, “Those interested parties with lots of money and power should not decide the outcome of the future prosperity and growth of that village and everyone, young and old, should have a chance of living and working in that village and not just a select few.
– Michael Hardware: The lost opportunity of neighbourhood planning

Whoops. Too late. They’ve only gone and done it, haven’t they?

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
– George Orwell

I shall leave you with a few more relevant quotes – in no particular order. This time, I really have run out of puff.

We need to think differently about power. We need to understand that power is only lent to other people, and only when it’s based on trust. We need to understand that real power is what happens when human beings listen to other human beings, and take the time to understand their fears, their hopes and their dreams.
– Christina Patterson: We are obsessed with power

The 2012 national planning policy framework, often described as a “developers’ charter”, has given precedence to expensive private development while discouraging social housing. The result is that through land-banking, slow build-out rates and using the housing market as an investment, house prices have risen way beyond the reach of most average-wage earners. At the same time, an increasing proportion of the incomes of the lower paid is spent on rented accommodation, which is often of poor quality.
– Mike Temple: Grenfell Tower tragedy shows social housing system has failed UK citizens

Grenfell was a preventable, political tragedy, about which ordinary people have been warning for years. The tragedy happened because ideology and the bottom line have come to matter more than people’s lives. If anything positive is to come of this disaster, it must be that we start to value council housing again – and the people who live in it.
– Pilgrim Tucker: The Grenfell Tower fire was the end result of a disdainful housing policy

The idea of housing as a social good for which governments are responsible has largely been abandoned.
– Leilani Farha: Grenfell Tower is a terrible betrayal of human rights

Social housing pays for itself, provides a stable home for families, and will be crucial in relieving the housing crisis.
– Dawn Foster: The problem is not tower blocks: it’s capitalism and cost-cutting

More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s escalating housing crisis…. The study by the homelessness charity Shelter shows that rising numbers of families on low incomes are not only unable to afford to buy their own home but are also struggling to pay even the lowest available rents in the private sector, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness.
– Toby Helm: Housing crisis threatens a million families with eviction by 2020

Homelessness is already rising fast. Since 2010 it has increased by 17% and the number of families in temporary accommodation has risen by a staggering 61% in England and Wales – due to both a shortage of social housing and welfare cuts. Yet the number of homes for social renting “started” has fallen from 39,492 in 2009–10 to just 944 in 2016–17. The situation is grim and getting grimmer…. Nothing can now undo the horrors of Grenfell Tower. The survivors rightly want justice. But it is also time for a fundamental change in our national approach to meeting housing need, to one that recognises social housing as part of the solution, not the problem – and that puts decency, safety and a recognition of the importance of community at its heart.
– Karen Buck: After Grenfell why my bill to protect tenants is still needed

[Young people’s] experiences are shaped by a skewed and broken housing market that means we may never be able to buy our own home. The broken promise that each generation will do better than the last falls squarely on our shoulders. The uncertain future of work is something that for this generation is a tangible reality, not an abstract possibility.
– Josh Salisbury: I was a devastated young remainer

The [London Design] biennale will feature an installation by Norway, in which the government is backing a decade-long initiative devoted to a people-centred approach to design. Engaging citizens in the process, it’s part of an ambitious action plan to make Norway “inclusively” designed by 2025. The government is also taking a proactive approach to the environment, and recently pledged that all cars on the roads will be electric within a decade. The exhibition includes examples of technology and innovation that employ design as a strategy for a better future.
– Christopher Turner: Bring me sunshine: the designers being briefed to create a happier planet

And, finally, some more Orwell (sort of):

One version of this stereotype is stalking the land: bluff, proudly ignorant, at war with the complexities and ambiguities of contemporary realities. But there is a better version. What is Orwell if he is not a great enemy of nonsense? He taught us that nonsense is the cloak of power, violence and enslavement. His prose is one of the sharpest scythes ever whetted to cut down the cant and lies that keep power in the hands of the few and the obfuscations that obscure the consequences for the many…. The no-nonsense English tradition that Orwell inhabited combines a clarity of thought and articulation with an understanding that if things are being obscured, it is because something shameful is going on. It uses the idea of national pride, not to bolster smugness and self-delusion but to stir outrage at these shameful things.

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