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Planning for Falmouth’s Future

The draft Neighbourhood Plan is now published, See it here and please make your comments.

http://planforfalmouth.info/

 

  • What development do you think Falmouth needs?
  • Where should it be located?
  • How should it be planned?
  • What should it look like?
  • How do think you should be involved?
  • Who should set the agenda and lead the process?

'Over the past two years we have argued that growth in Falmouth should be well-planned, of the highest design quality, and sustainable. The letter below from one of the UKs most distinguished architects, published in the Guardian on 22nd March, says it well and largely mirrors our views about the potential new housing for Falmouth.'

When did we decide beautiful cities were a thing of the past?

While I am not sure that garden cities are the answer to our housing shortage, the chancellor’s recent announcement for a "real garden city” to be built in Ebbsfleet contains, at least, a vestige of possibly unintentional vision.

Inexplicably, our housing shortage is normally discussed only as a problem of logistics and delivery. When did we relinquish the ambition to build new communities and resort, instead, to speaking only of housing numbers?

The largely unpopular post-war attempts at planned housing estates seem to have convinced us that such desires are futile, playing into the hands of housebuilders, who are given license to deliver a market-friendly but socially and environmentally disastrous prod­uct: cul-de-sac estates devoid of the col­lective potential to organise housing in a meaningful manner.

Delivering housing should be dif­ferent to delivering cars or washing machines: the manner by which you place houses together has the possibility of creating not only streets and squares, but also the potential to create a mean­ingful sense of place and community.

Such opportunities and possibilities used to captivate our imagination and focus our ideas of society. When did we resign ourselves to talking about society without striving to give it shape? Do we have to wait for our next Olympics to give rhetoric and idea a physical form by co-ordinating resources in the name of something beyond what can be justified solely in practical and logistical terms?

We are building for future genera­tions, whether we accept the respon­sibility or not. By default, we plan our cities and towns primarily as a response to pressures. By calling our planners "development control officers”, we con­fess our retreat from the position that it might be possible to do anything mean­ingful. Instead, our poor
planners are left to man the barricades of mediocrity, charged with preventing the worst.

When did we decide that beautiful towns and cities were a thing of the past? Or do we really believe that they can be built without planning them? Why would free enterprise insist on a park or a square, on a kindergarten or a playground, on a public swimming pool or any other non-commercial element in a situation that does not offer the incentive of financial gain?

The creation of large amounts of housing forces us to confront this problem seriously, not as an issue only of numbers and volume, but as a representation of social priorities and civic pride. Providing fast trains and new airports might be essential, but providing good homes and shaping the meaningful physical environment that nurtures communities must be just as important.

David Chipperfield,  David Chipperfield Architects

We aim to use this slot to show examples of planning and architecture that might be models for a better quality of development, and provide an inspiration for Falmouth’s future.

The overall planning framework for the next 20 years will be decided by the County Council in its Local Plan and also by Central Government which has to approve it. The key issues of the housing expansion and other growth is not in local hands, and the decision on whether to expand by 3,500 – 4,500 houses (or more) will be decided from the top down. All that is left for local people to influence is the form, design and to a small extent location of this new development. The only limited power available to do this is likely to be through a Neighbourhood Plan – a very constrained concession to ‘localism’.

Nevertheless, we believe that Falmouth should grasp this opportunity, and use the neighbourhood planning process to make sure that:

 
In other words, it should be the community that leads the process and sets the agenda, and does so in genuine partnership with both the private and public sectors.

Examples of good practice

The examples are drawn largely from Europe and the UK. We hope they provide a different perspective to what can be achieved by good design and thoughtful planning. These are not the standard developer houses that are rolled out on sites regardless of context, but are designed for the particular location, and stylistically rarely seek to be poor pastiche copies of the past, but rather look forward to satisfying 21st century lifestyles.

The new planning regime reduces planning controls to make it easier to get planning permission to develop. It could become a developers’ charter, being all too easy to manipulate the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development. Some of our examples will show what sustainable development really means, and what it should involve to create a genuine community.

Let us know what you think, and send us examples that most appeal to you. We start with an example from Germany – click the link to Freiberg Vauban. There will be more to follow, so do keep checking.

 

Link to an article by Mike Jenks on:

Urban and Environmental Planning: Can Sustainable Cities be Secure Cities?

Read this to see why local Neighbourhood Planning in Cornwall is important and why Jubilee Wharf is a good example of low energy, mixed use development.

A further YouTube link to Mike Jenks' lecture on urban identity and globalisation.

http://youtu.be/mxsYZAT6Qxs

Achieving Sustainable Development through Neighbourhood Planning?
Chris Smith and Mike Jenks
Fal Energy Partnership AGM
24th April 2014

Read the text and see the accompanying slides by clicking on the links.

 

 

Contact us:

secretary@falmouthcivicsociety.org.uk