Why not build upwards?
PUBLISHED: 12:13 30 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:46 04 May 2010
IN recent weeks, I have noted the increased reporting on the Say NO to Mereham campaign. While a lot of print has been given to the lack of road capacity for 12,000 additional vehicles and flood plain worries (which Government policy seems to suggest th
IN recent weeks, I have noted the increased reporting on the "Say NO to Mereham" campaign.
While a lot of print has been given to the lack of road capacity for 12,000 additional vehicles and flood plain worries (which Government policy seems to suggest that planners should simply show a blind eye to), there seems to be little space given to other important aspects of the application and the concept of affordable homes in the rural community.
My understanding of the regional strategic proposals suggested any new development should be between Stretham and Wicken, near the railway crossing. This is also a flood plain, which should not hinder any developer in the current political environment. More importantly however, considering that the strategic rail plan is for increased investment in the rail service between Cambridge and King's Lynn, should this agreed expansion of infrastructure capacity not be the focus of any new development, not a congested rural road network.
Secondly, a development consisting of affordable homes in a rural community is socio-economically ill conceived. Public data shows, limited income households are more dependent on public transport infrastructure. To place affordable housing communities in remote locations simply adds to the woes of those for whom the houses are intended and to planners who have to consider the burden on services which would otherwise not be necessary. This only supports the case that if a new community is to be considered Mereham is wrong and the regional strategic plan for a community based on the rail network between Stretham and Wicken is more realistic.
Notwithstanding the question mark of whether Mereham is right, I feel that the general approach to providing more homes year-on-year in non-town environments is fundamentally flawed. Planners seem paranoid of re-visiting the idea of building upwards. If you look at great cities like New York, Sydney, Oslo, Paris and many others, people like to be near their place of work and amenities (both in time and distance) and planners have built upwards. Given good high rise accommodation, with suitable and affordable mass transit systems, people will create their own viable economic communities within the greater town or city. Not only enhancing the town or city overall, but also the immediate quality of life for that community. Let's stop building sprawling new towns in inadequate locations and look to the skies again, closer to where people work and socialise.
It is environmentally right also; less travel, less building materials etc.
The purpose of this letter is not to undermine those who say No to Mereham on the grounds of local impacts, these are valid and justified arguments, but let us also question Mereham on regional planning grounds, when investment is being directed at a rail system, whilst also to question the fundamentals of why we build outwards not upwards anymore?
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