We want informed debate’
PUBLISHED: 11:54 29 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:04 04 May 2010
IN response to the Reverend Fiona Brampton (Letters November 8) of course there are some people who do not actively support the Say NO to Mereham campaign, and some who would welcome Mereham being built. All of us in the campaign fully respect their right
IN response to the Reverend Fiona Brampton (Letters November 8) of course there are some people who do not actively support the Say NO to Mereham campaign, and some who would welcome Mereham being built. All of us in the campaign fully respect their right to hold those views. However, what we do ask for is informed opinion.
The Rev Brampton thinks the affordable housing proposed at Mereham will solve the accommodation problems of those on lower incomes - but she needs to be clear on the facts. I refer her to the Proofs of Evidence which are available on the Persona Associates website (www.persona.uk.com/mereham) by Lin Cousins and Richard Bailey. Lin Cousins has concluded: "There is no evidence to suggest that the affordable housing at Mereham will be of particular benefit to the sub region in terms of providing an earlier supply of affordable housing which cannot be achieved in the already planned new growth areas in the sub region.... On the basis of information supplied by Multiplex, Mereham would be providing between 60 and 80 affordable homes each year from 2011." In short, this small provision of affordable homes really is not a reason to permit the building of a vast new town on productive farmland with all the attendant negative impacts on the region's roads and other infrastructure.
Sorry, Ms Brampton, Multiplex is not a benevolent organisation dedicated to the welfare of the people of East Cambridgeshire. It is a profit-driven company owned by a foreign asset management firm. It has absolutely no track record of delivering large-scale sustainable "communities" in the UK (Wembley stadium and an unfinished shopping centre in High Wycombe really do not count).
Regrettably, the "system" does not ensure that the developers will live up to their inflated promises on deliverability. As at Cambourne, community facilities at Mereham would lag years behind the provision of housing because that reflects commercial realities. Just like the affordable housing, the schools and medical facilities would not be available at Mereham until there were more than 1,000 houses on the site (built at a rate of 350 a year). In the intervening years, the population of Mereham would have to find schools and GPs to take them on to their lists. The professional educators and medics that spoke at the Inquiry made it plain that these resources are already stretched to breaking point.
Instead of appointing herself the voice of the so-called silent, "intimidated" minority, the Rev Brampton should make time to attend the Inquiry and listen to the evidence on both sides. She should spend time reading and understanding the thousands of pages of information produced by Multiplex and the councils, and engage with any of the Say NO to Mereham protesters. Then she would be able to speak from a position of knowledge and not of profound ignorance about these hugely complex issues that are so vital to the future of our communities.