Two weeks and two housing applications rejected (Courier, November 14 and 21) with both being for affordable housing on brown field sites. This seems to fly in the face of the well perceived need to get more housing built and available, especially, to younger people, and to protect the green belt. Both schemes come from reputable housing organisations, Orbit for the St Marys Road proposal, and Waterloo for that in Leicester Street.
So what are the reported issues? Very few it appears though comments and opposition seem to be from Labour councillors, those one might expect to be in favour, broadly, of such applications. The Leicester Street proposal stands condemned as being ‘very dull’. Not unlike the houses many of us live in and not unlike the rows of Leamington’s now cherished and over-valued Victorian terraces.
Another objection, anonymous, complains of it being on the ‘edge of a conservation area’. So? As is the Lansdown St/ Kennedy Square housing. And as the rather plain terraces built in between the grander streets such as Leam Terrace in Victorian times. The same complainant doesn’t like the idea of 100 per cent affordable housing. In our overpriced town with prices out of reach of many working people do we want more unaffordable housing? Finally the shared ownership offerings of organisations such as Waterloo make it possible for more young people to get their foot on the housing ladder. This has worked well in their Regal Park development off Queensway. So why is there no support? Is there are a snobbish fear of those on lower incomes getting too close to our precious and overpriced Conservation Areas? Other objections quoted could be applied to any new build or renovation project.
It is really to be hoped that plans will be resubmitted and genuine design issues might be resolved with support from those elected to speak on behalf of the many, largely younger people, who have seen the housing ladder being pulled up in front of them. Their needs should be at least as important as those already in more fortunate housing circumstances. If not, it will be tragic to see these sites decay over the years, the St Marys’ Road site in particular being in a sorry state of decline and already being a notable demerit to our town.
Jim Layton, Leamington