Following a tip-off last night The BRISTOLIAN can report that the ‘interestingly’ managed charity HorseWorld will not be seeing its planning applications for a massive housing development and new visitor centre go before the BANES Development Control Committee today – thanks to the sensational LAST MINUTE DUMPING of the matter from the agenda.
Bath & North East Somerset Council’s DCC is still meeting this afternoon… Only without any discussion of the controversial concrete-in-the-greenbelt scheme that HorseWorld boss Mark ‘Am I In This Month’s BRISTOLIAN Again?’ Owen seems to think is the only way to reverse the financial rot that set in during his five year tenure as Managing Director.
A council source told The BRISTOLIAN:
The applications have been withdrawn – this was done by officers not the applicant. There is further information to be obtained, and issues to be clarified…
Just what could that “further information” be? What “issues” need to be “clarified”? Could it be that the recent revelations in your lovable ‘Smiter’ have been read down yonder..?
It’s expected that Owen’s DOOMED PLANS will be resubmitted to next month’s DCC meeting on 20 November.
In the meantime, questions continue to be asked about a number of aspects to Owen’s development proposals, not least the ‘SECTION 106 CONTRIBUTIONS’.
‘Section 106’ obligations are legally enforceable requirements on a piece of land that a local authority negotiates with an owner. When major development like what’s planned for the HorseWorld land is in the pipeline, it’s meant to ensure that the developer bears some of the financial strain on local services, such as education, roads and health facilities.
And as you can imagine, 125 new houses in a village of barely more than 1,300 people can definitely be seen as major.
So given the FINANCIAL STRAITS that HorseWorld is in, offering £1,008,254.52 in s106 money (‘HorseWorld Trust Financial Viability Statement’) seems pretty impressive (though as some have noted, s106 negotiations are often skewed in favour of the developer).
Certainly, as some of the submissions in support of HorseWorld’s plans suggest, more housing for local people – something of a hot local potato at the moment – would be a great idea.
As HorseWorld marketing assistant Amy Williams noted (whilst simultaneously forgetting to mention who she’s employed by):
Housing is very much needed in the area and will allow the existing listed buildings to be converted and preserved. The site for the housing fits inperfectly with the existing built up area surrounding it. Well done HorseWorld for a well thought out plan!
Well done indeed! And well done Amy for describing so well the need for affordable housing for Whitchurch locals whilst she herself lives in a £200,000+ house in, err, Staple Hill!
Amy’s boss, Communications Manager Samantha Greatbanks – an actual Whitchurch resident – echoes the sentiment:
I feel that for my generation these houses will provide a new place to live that is close to home.
Admirable sentiments from someone living in a half-a-million quid property!
Still, it will be great that with 125 new homes in Whitchurch young locals not born with a silver spoon in their mouth will be able to find homes in their own village and not be forced out by stupidly high house prices, isn’t it?
Erm… Well it seems that HorseWorld isn’t that keen on the idea. Its million pound s106 offer is only on the table if it’s allowed to provide just 10% affordable housing on the site – a mere dozen homes for ordinary Whitchurch people.
That’s contrasted with the not-much-less-meagre demand – carried unanimously – of the BANES Development Control Committee for 35%.
And when you consider that around 110 new dwellings would attract roughly 300 new residents with well over a hundred extra motor vehicles between them, and increase demand for school places by at least a hundred, just how far will that £1,008,254.52 stretch?
Does Mark Owen and the charity bosses who approved his perks and company car and salary hikes – whilst the horse-loving staff at the sharp end survive on little more than minimum wage – really think the people of Whitchurch are so witless?