They say good things come in threes. Well, most Druids would go for that – land, sea and sky… possibly Abred, Gwynedd and Ceugant… certainly cake, mead and merriment – but this one has three chairs. Having been Chair of Charfield Parish Council for some six years, earlier this month I took on the Chair of the local quarry liaison group, and tonight I became Chair of the Charfield Neighbourhood Plan. I think of all three that last is going to be the challenging one.
In a time off chaos and change, to seek a robust way ahead… Currently our village of a thousand homes is awaiting detailed plans of another hundred and forty or so as well as a 60 bed care home. That’s a big increase, and it’s going to take time for the village to both assimilate the new residents and deal with the demands of a depleted infrastructure. In such a space to work towards a Neighbourhood Plan which by definition is proactive about development isn’t going to be easy.
To analogise a little, Britain has always gained from incomers, from new blood. Historically, they’ve tended to be invaders like the Vikings, or the Normans, or they’ve been people from overseas we’ve actively sought, like those on the Windrush. I’m fairly certain my ancestors came here as Huguenots retreating from France… four hundred years on can I claim Britain is better for me being here? I like to think so.
Nowadays many writers in the media will incite unjustified fear of being washed over by migrants, and perhaps in truth parts of the country do feel the burden of so many at once. To overdevelop in too short a time can be to stretch resources too thinly. And that’s kind of how I feel our village could be if too much development took place too quickly. A gentle increase and the balloon grows big and shiny, too much too soon and it bursts.
I’m wittering, but it’s going to be a busy autumn. If you’re local and reading this and wondering why you don’t know what I’m on about, check the CHADRA newsletter and check the parish council web site. If you’ve done your Neighbourhood Plan and have insights worth sharing, do send me an email.