We often complain about the increasing dominance of students’ accommodation in the city centre. But here there is a clear positive side as Study Inn Group has shown with the recent re-cladding of Burges House on Ironmonger Square. It has transformed a dull and uninspiring building into a vibrant and colourful addition to the street scene. Picture: John Marshall
We do not fully endorse the Council’s vision of growth of the city and we have said so in our representation on The New Coventry Local Development Plan. We said: “A city exists for its citizens and there is no benefit for them in wholesale expansion of the population. On the contrary they would suffer from the greater demand on the transport system, the hospital and other mainly fixed assets. We are not convinced that a population expansion, especially on the periphery of the city, will automatically lead to the improvement of the city centre. We believe that the vision for the city should be for a city of quality rather than a city of quantity. We think that the focus of the LDP should be on the improvement of the long established suburbs and the city centre. Population led planning We have sympathy with the Council in being coerced by Government to plan on the basis of the population projections of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the so called Strategic Housing Market Assessment. Population projections are, by their nature, trend based and backward looking. Previous experience demonstrates that such projections seldom become reality and the ONS projections themselves have changed by large numbers in a small space of time. Population projections might have some value in projecting school numbers five years ahead (although recent experience in the Council might cast doubt on that), but projecting 20 years up to 2031 is completely unrealistic.
three years and are therefore regarded as permanent immigrants. Immigration numbers are very susceptible to public policy decisions, and the recent proclamations of the current Government might suggest that immigration might reduce in future years. This has not been taken into account in the projections guiding the development plan. Green Belt To give up significant areas of greenbelt on the basis of population projections that cannot be relied upon, puts at risk the opportunity to develop brownfield sites in The New Coventry the city. Early release of green belt sites Local Development Plan will reduce the chance of developing 2011-2031 brownfields sites. We believe that the Delivering Sustainable rate of house building should be tied in Growth September 2014 with the growth of jobs in the city, so as not to create excessive commuting. The release of 10% of Coventry’s Green Belt land over a 10 – 15 year period could provide an unfortunate precedent that will be hard to resist in the future, leading to the eventual loss of all of Coventry’s Green Belt. The Society doesn’t disagree with the principle of growing the city, but disagrees The ONS projections were based on population figures derived from the 2011 with the scale and timing of this growth. census, which was during a period of rapid We believe that the Green Belt should be protected until such time as it is proved growth in the number of overseas students, following changes to the funding additional land is required. The Society believes there should be a better balance regime for universities. This rapid between housing, jobs and the provision increase in the number of overseas students was a one-off event that will not of infrastructure. We support the objective of improving continue into the future. Furthermore the balance of housing in the city and the the ONS uses the UN definition of improved quality of housing, but do not temporary immigration as those staying share the view that it is necessary to from three months to one year, whilst locate such housing in the Green Belt.” overseas students typically stay two to In the real world there is economic growth and decline, consumer confidence grows and wanes, market values go up and down, immigration rises and falls and none of this is forecast in the population projections and Strategic Housing Market Assessment. It is therefore important not to give up long held and community supported policy positions, such as Green Belt, without strong evidence of need that goes beyond the fickleness of population projections.
After 12,000 days in local government, who wouldn't turn to yoga and meditation? An illustrated talk by Peter Hunter with some lessons from three careers in local government, and why life afterwards is so sweet! Monday, November 10 at 7.30pm The Shop Front Theatre, City Arcade Light refreshments, £2 for visitors
More news and views on our website: www.coventrysociety.org.uk
The November 2014 edition of the Coventry Society newsletter