Earlier this week a friend let me know that there would be a display about one of our new housing estates in the Monmouth Hall in Yeovil. It had been announced through an ad in last weeks Western Gazette (which I missed) a poster in the local shop (which had come down after a day), and a few leaflets to local houses.
With 8 hours notice, I scrambled along at 5pm to the Monmouth Hall, to see the grand designs that Barratts had for the Lyde Road estate. It was architects plans for the 700+ houses, and a chance for public feedback. Except that nobody had got the feedback forms out, thankfully someone spotted this and started to put them out on a table by the door. The other problem with the forms was that they had no return address, so that unless you filled them in on the day there was no way of getting them back to the developers. (but see below)
The plans themselves were, within the available parameters (flood plain on one side, existing housing development on another, and a cordon sanitaire to avoid methane poisoning from an old landfill site along the S border), reasonably good. But they looked incredibly crammed - one existing resident noticed that she'd have 6 gardens in the new properties bordering her own (average sized) garden. The architects themselved were 'surprised' that they'd not been asked to plan in for shops or any other community facilities, as this would be normal in an estate of this size. If enough people make the same point, they'd be open to putting some in.
Many of the folk there had only heard about it second hand, including some local parish councils, but there seemed to be a good turnout. The people I spoke to all seemed pretty unhappy with the designs, both how crammed they looked and the lack of shops and other public provision. The Riverside Park looked ok, but is down a steep slope, on land which is unsuitable for development, and the Section 106 agreement doesn't ask for the work to begin until 667 dwellings are occupied - i.e. the rest of the estate is finished. Only then will diggers and what not start driving through the newly built estate to the river at the back of it to start landscaping. Hmmmmm!
Just to compare, the Lufton development on the other side of Yeovil will have fewer houses, but the developers are aiming to provide a small cluster of retail units, and community meeting space as part of the school site. Lyde Road is 100 houses bigger, so it seems peculiar that it gets less facilities. Apart from the school gate, there will be nowhere to meet, it will be an incredibly lonely and isolated place to live unless a bit more thought is given to the plans.
If you went to the consultation and want to have your say, the postal address to contact is:
Hammonds Yates Ltd.
3 Harbour Crescent
Fao Steve Hawkins.
these are the architects, so they design the estate, but they don't control the parameters, so don't shoot them. Barrats the developers, are on 01392 423014, and the planning department at South Somerset District Council, who've overseen the development so far, can be contacted through the council switchboard on 01935 462462