The Five Villages Preservation Trust

A campaign to stop the 5,000+ houses Watermark Development on Kentford Heath, the proposed Red Lodge New Town of 10,000+ houses and any other major developments in the areas of our member villages

Latest news:

Watermark had reared its ugly head again and Orion Land and Leisure have been discussing with David Taylor to put the Watermark development on his land as opposed to the previous plan on Kentford Heath.

They have prepared a plan of this new Watermark which was only sent to Councillors on 15 September 2006. After digging around we found that this new site would cover the Taylor Farm land from Cherry Hill to the 5-Ways roundabout at Barton Mills right through to Tuddenham.

Our Chair, Andrew Holman, spoke at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on 20 September where Orion had hoped to present their new proposal to the Council. Councillors, however, voted to remove the Regional Leisure Facility from their Corporate Plan. See below Andrew's statement to the FHDC full Council Meeting:

A Policy with Baggage

It must seem an age ago since the Council adopted the aspiration for a regional leisure facility as a policy objective. So much has changed since then, the scale of change has been so great that no-one could possibly criticise the council for reviewing and changing that policy tonight, indeed, I would suggest it is the only sensible outcome from tonight.

Lets look at just a few of those changes, the plans for Watermark came before the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and the council's own Local Development Framework (LDF).

The RSS hearing found that Watermark was the wrong proposal in the wrong location. It was not sustainable on a significant number of counts.

The RSS wants development on Brownfield sites first, or at least in towns but only as a very last resort out of town on Greenfield sites. Obviously having a council policy that would put a Greenfield site first is totally out of kilter with the RSS.

But this is just the start of the problem about having a policy aspiration for an RLF. Obviously, without the means to pay for it someone else will have to and, in this case, it will be housing. Watermark is now unclear about exactly how many houses that will be. But, as weknow the 5-ways roundabout equals a couple of thousand houses, paying for lakes everal more, adding a few of the other suggested sports brings us right back to the original figure of 6,000 plus houses without trying. This uses all of the district's housing allocationn for the next 15 years blocking any house building in the rest of the district!

It is clear, by agreeing to an RLF you saddle youself with an unknown commitment that would hold the council hostage to a policy needing housing to pay for it. It does without saying it would also unbalance the whole LDF. this would clearly open up the council to a degree of criticism, it would be a nonsense.

You will have heard from the LDF consultation about the views of local people. Your constituents overwhelmingly wanted local leisure facilities for people in their own area rather than something centralised.

So a simple decision about an RLF comes with baggage, the council is faced this evening with a landmark decision, something more of a Watershed than a Watermark.

A vote to remove the RLF aspiration brings FHDC into line with the RSS, into line with your own LDF working group and into line with the wishes of local people.

The council's reputation has suffered in recent times from a degree of criticism, we regard this evening as an opportunity to put that right and an opportunity to show that we have a council that acts on these concerns and truly listens to the voices of constituents. I hope you will agree with us that to do anything other than drop the RLF policy is unthinkable.