Friends of the Peak District will submit its responses to the High Peak Local Plan consultation on Monday 23rd June.
We have spent the last few weeks hard at work on a detailed evidence paper that will support our responses to the draft plan and also set the scene for our work on the Public Examination that will follow later in the year. The central message of our paper is that the proposal for 7,200 new homes in the High Peak by 2031 is unsustainable and not justified by the evidence. Even if the total number is correct – which we don’t think it is – then the biggest problem is that most of the new homes will be open market houses. They will be built on sites around the edges of Glossop, Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge, encroaching into the countryside. They won’t meet the housing needs of local people, and the planned housing provision is totally out of scale with the employment forecasts.
Instead they will attract commuters and people retiring from Greater Manchester. The effects will be to create lots more traffic congestion and suburban sprawl, damage the landscape, use up land that could be used for affordable homes and possibly push the price of market housing even further out of reach of most local people. The additional traffic will also scupper any chance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To be fair, this is not really the fault of High Peak Borough Council: it is the Government’s obsession with numerical housing targets and their blind faith in the private housebuilders to fix the housing crisis that are causing the problem. The draft Local Plan sets out a long list of objectives that we could support, and would make the Borough more sustainable, and then throws in a housing supply policy that blows all the other policies apart. The Council recently published an Equality Impact Assessment, which echoed this concern that the housing supply policy may worsen social and economic inequalities. We believe that the Council should stand up to Government and tell them their housebuilding policies simply won’t work, especially in an area that stands right on the cusp between a major conurbation and beautiful, precious landscapes, and whose needs for economic regeneration can never be met by commuters. We are also working with national CPRE to lobby central Government on this issue.