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Re: Preferred Options for Langham for Local Plan for Development 2017-2032
I write with reference to the above. I have taken the chance to attend your recent open evening at Langham Community Centre and I have grave concerns about the proposed preferred options for Langham.
Firstly, there was a document sent to all residents some time ago. This identified possible new development sites in the village and asked for comments, I duly filled it in and returned it. Now a new site has been put forward, that next to the community centre in School Road. I cannot see how this can be done, without the opportunity for comment by residents. I wonder if the democratic process is being circumvented and why this is being allowed by the Borough.
More specifically, the two sites put forward in School Road, suffer from the same problems. The units to be built have been allocated in such numbers (115) and the area is so deep from the road, that only a high density and in-depth development can be put forward. This will be out of keeping with the village, which is nearly all frontage development and of much lower density. The indicative plans submitted shows a very urban layout, with semi-detached dwellings without adequate parking and fails to make use of the lovely rural setting of these sites. The in/out access road will create two enclave urban estate in a rural village.
Further, because of the above, the numbers of traffic movements in School road will increase substantially, this road is not fit for purpose already and overloads at school drop off/pick up times. It is now a bus route too and there are heavy goods vehicles accessing the adjacent industrial park. All in all the road would need upgrading and adjacent road junctions redesigned.
The number of new dwellings at 125 is far too high for a village like Langham. This represents a 35% increase. I realise that new development will have to take place, but this is honestly disproportionate when neighbouring villages are being asked to accommodate so little. Specially Dedham. Our village is not fit to take this amount of new homes. The buses are poor, many roads have no pavements and junctions are poorly designed. There is only a shop because volunteers run it at no profit. No doctor nor streetlights. Dedham has many of these facilities, it also has a large wealthy and influential populace who seem able to divert development to other villages.
I have to accept that the 10 houses on the corner of Park Road is an obvious infill/rounding off of the envelope. It is those in school Road which are lee acceptable. It has always been a principle that Langham has two sides that near Margaret's Cross and that on Moor Road, and that these were not to be joined. So as to preserve the character. Along School Road the two will be joined.
I suggest that some development be allowed, but that only one of these sites be considered. The density and number of dwellings should be reduced and a more appropriate layout and design promoted. This should allow improvements to school road, especially a car park and drop off point for the school. Careful use of a green buffer area to the frontage would soften the impact. Low density would allow a rural feel. The housing type could be controlled so as not to allow too many large executive houses. This will satisfy some of the demand for housing, preserve a lot of the village character and solve many of the school Road issues. At present this site is set for 55 units, I would suggest 25 to 35.
I have worked in the local housing development industry for 25 years as a director of local firm Vaughan and Blyth. My experience and eyes tell me there are better sites in Langham and I'm sure there will be windfall sites which come up in the plan period. The shame of the proposals is that many of these potential sites haven't been examined and I can't help feeling that a little increase here and there would be far more in keeping and more sustainable. By proposing so many in school road you risk creating a town within a village and ruining the special quality of our village. Perhaps, small sites are seen as lacking an individual "sense of place" but the sense is in the whole community.
Russell Sainty MRICS