The responses to the Summer Survey seem to show that people are very familiar with the themes explored in it. The fresh memories of three significant housing development applications (including one by a particularly tenacious developer) is highly likely to have influenced the strength and breadth of opinion. However, in terms of willingness to engage, this influence has arguably enhanced rather than invalidated the survey results by allowing time for people to become more certain of their personal opinions through reflection and discussion.
Many respondents tended to return to the narrower theme of development rather than the broader theme of Conservation Areas. This suggests either that, for a significant proportion of residents, the two issues are indistinguishable, or that development is the only debate that really matters to them. However, when considering the idea of ‘inappropriate development’ many respondents cited ‘urbanisation’ and perceived lack of building material ‘enforcement’ on the part of the planning authority. This suggests that opposition to new build development proposals may be strongly associated with appearance, density and position rather than the concept of development itself.
Three questions fall out of this research.
- What defines ‘inappropriate’ and ‘appropriate development’? This will address appearance, density and position.
- What role does lack of infrastructure and resources (for example school capacity, transport, amenities) play in opposition to development?
A corollary question may be: ‘should planning consent automatically commit the local authority to provide infrastructure uplift (for example ten affordable houses should trigger an increase in school capacity, transport provision etc.)?’
- Notwithstanding infrastructure shortfalls, is there an acceptable rate of new-build development? In other words, if a local plan specifies a new-build target of ten houses over a twenty-year period and ten houses are built in year 1, should there be an automatic planning moratorium imposed until year 20 (the ‘we’ve done our bit’ argument)?
It is accepted that the answers to these questions would not be binding on either WODC or the PC, but they may help to inform future policy.
Whilst a broad range of opinions were voiced, nobody advocated either the abolition or adjustment of the existing Conservation Area and most respondents were in favour of preserving open spaces. There was no support for large scale development (5-9 houses) but there was very little outright opposition to development especially when framed as affordable housing. Discussion seemed to focus on scale, location and architecture. In summary, the residents of Churchill and Sarsden show a level of awareness and concern to justify the completion of a formal Conservation Area Character Appraisal.
PC were asked to agree that:
- Enough interest exists amongst residents to justify the production of a Conservation Area Character Appraisal for Churchill;
- The Task & Finish Group conduct further research to answer the three identified questions;
- The Task & Finish Group create a draft Character Appraisal structure and summarise the section content for approval by PC and WODC;
PC were asked to note:
- The general strength and focus of opinion amongst residents;
- That the Task & Finish Group may require specialist assistance to complete the Character Appraisal.
PC were asked to:
- accept the findings of this report as an accurate representation and analysis of the Summer Survey conducted in July 2018;
- give direction on what should be published on the Conserve Churchill website.
The Conserve Churchill Task & Finish Group surveyed the residents of Churchill and Sarsden to determine if there was sufficient interest to justify a Conservation Area Character Appraisal, and to better understand what a Conservation Area meant to them.
The full report of the Conserve Churchill Summer Resident Survey conducted in July 2018 is published here. Whilst every effort has been made by the whole Team to both contact every resident and eliminate bias from what is a contentious subject, we cannot guarantee that either aim was achieved completely.