And sometimes you get bouquets

by Stephen Tall on January 24, 2007

Having posted a pretty jaundiced article here following the wrist-slitting tedium that goes by the name of Full Council on Monday, it’s only fair to say that Tuesday was indeed another day.

A three-hour area planning meeting may sound like most normal people’s idea of a living hell, but it focused on just one issue, of huge interest and concern to many of my residents in Headington and the wider city.

The Council’s planning officers gave clear presentations which neither patronised nor waffled; objectors and the applicants presented robust, measured arguments; councillors asked pertinent questions and restricted themselves to brief, to-the-point comments; and we consensually agreed a sensible way forward.* Now how often does all that happen in one meeting?

To cap it all, I’ve just received this appreciative e-mail:

I listened to your arguments last night and found them persuasive both by reason of logic and inherent good sense. It was reassuring to know that you are in touch with the deeply held and felt views of the local communities.

Indeed, like many residents, having been somewhat disheartened of late, I was impressed by the quality and understanding of the Councillors present last night. Whatever the outcome … I think that the quality of the local democracy, so much in evidence last night, was very reassuring, especially so when politics is viewed rather cynically by many.

Enough to make you feel all warm inside on an otherwise chilly day.

* I’ve assumed most blog readers will have little interest in the specific planning applications, which related to the Warneford Meadow in Oxford. But if you do, I’ve explained my views in full here.

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One comment

You’re probably right that your usual blog readers couldn’t give a fig about Warneford Meadow, and let’s face it, nor can all but a few of the usual suspects either. Many do care about the housing situation though, and no doubt there are many people who would have packed that meeting to make that point had they not had to get home to Carterton or somewhere far flung because of their inability to afford housing in Oxford.

Brookes has to build another two or three thousand hall places I believe to get it below the agreed number of students requiring to live out in what would otherwise be family housing.

Mascall Avenue was (also) a silly decision – to put such a small amoutn of housing so close to such a small (but relatively overbearing) amount of student accommodation on a restricted site such a distance from the main campus. Warneford Meadow is ideal, getting more of both on a site that can be more flexibly designed for each to sit better with the other. But both are unequivocally needed in the local plan agreement with Brookes and the affordable housing need.

Of course, if we had LVT and the relatively few people enjoying the amenity of open space nearby were paying for the privilege (instead of trying to protect their unearned privilege at others’ expense) just as people who cannot at the moment are paying by having nowhere suitable to live, then such a decision would be more a matter of balance. The various interests more equally weighed.

But the letter was a master stroke of political balancing I’d say!

PS – does the “sequential test” not apply if you want to build in South Oxfordshire?

by Jock Coats on January 30, 2007 at 8:22 pm. Reply #

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