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This from Cllr Michael Lilley (Independent IW and Ryde Town Councillor for Ryde East ). Ed
On Saturday, 23rd May (May Bank holiday!), I received a “Dear Councillor Lilley” letter from the developers of a proposed new residential development at Puckpool Hill, Ryde, asking me for feedback in their intention to build 50 new houses on the border of my Ward in Seaview.
Covid-19 Reality! Lives and People First!
My heart sank, the energy drained from my body, the fatigue of weeks trying to cope with the realities of Covid-19 and focusing on supporting the residents of Ryde survive and get through the biggest crisis in their lives, including myself and my family.
I fail to understand when our Town, our Island, and our Country, is faced with incredible economic, social and personnel hardship, that developers in Ryde and across the Island, seem to be so blinkered and focused on still building houses we do not need, at prices we cannot afford, and without jobs to sustain any form of mortgage. The words “utter madness” just “fill” my head which is shaking from disbelief and anger.
Continuous Large Scale Planning Applications in Ryde East! Despite Covid-19!
This new application just adds to my Need for Action in-box, that includes the 450 houses forthcoming West Acre Park application, and Pennyfeathers’ Variation Orders (900 houses) to get an extension to the deadline for a full application post – 31st August cut of point (after five years waiting).
This distracts from the priority for me, which is simply supporting the Town and its residents getting through the trauma of Covid-19 and rebuilding their lives, our economy and most importantly their health. I continue to object to these applications along with local residents as we see that the houses being built do not fulfil in any way the needs of the community, and our housing need; especially now in a Covid-19 world.
These proposed houses are not at an affordable price for Islanders even when named affordable, have no balance with available jobs, destroy green space even though Ryde has a deficit of green space and IW has UNESCO Biosphere status, and without proper infrastructure and roads.
Why Applications when Covid-19 is hitting our lives?
I may be cynical but it seems to be a developer’s old trick to put in applications and proposals at Bank Holidays, and when the local community is least likely to observe or comprehend the devastation awaiting them and by the time they do it is too late to get their views heard.
Residents are up against well-oiled professional teams with only one mission which is to get their planning permission through and make their profit.
Therefore, it makes sense that during the chaos and death threatening crisis of Covid-19 when residents are isolated, tired and probably at their lowest, it could be seen as a good time to slip in a large scale planning application.
The need for a 12 month Moratorium to Reassess Need
This has to stop now, as this is not normal and not business as usual. I am calling and have been calling for some time for all large scale developments to be put on hold and we have a moratorium for at least 12 months whilst the community can start earnestly recovering from Covid-19 and rebuild their lives.
The World has changed radically in three months and we are totally in the unknown, we need to stop and rethink collectively the future about everything at local grass root level.
Any future housing has to be carefully thought out in regard social distancing, the environment, community facilities and support, adequate pedestrianisation and cycling, job creation, home working, homes for the homeless and disadvantaged, and so much more; And more importantly, residents and the community have to be involved and part of the decision with their own accessible professional advice and guidance to match the developers.
I hope the developers will stop and listen, take a moral and ethical perspective, and put people before business as usual and profit.
Image: © WYG