BY GARY MCGHEE
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
(Malvina Reynolds – Little Boxes)
The new house building proposal started with 70 houses on a ‘flagship’ site in the centre of the village. Why so many, we all thought? Particularly when a lot of houses had already been built in the south of the village, though these being high spec and valued north of 750, 000 of our British pounds each. Hardly what you’d call ‘affordable ‘ housing, although the little terraced ones, all half a dozen of them, fulfilled the criteria no doubt. Then the bombshell was dropped that the proposal had been increased to 120 extra houses, though not directly to us villagers, who like folk down the ages, only found out through word of mouth. But what about the infrastructure implications we cried? What about the levels of traffic and the safety for the local primary school situated on an already busy road, which was bound to get a whole lot busier. Oh and there was the sop thrown at us plebs to build a new village hall, which isn’t needed, or important?
In a packed and angry parish council meeting all of this and more was spelt out. Oh, but there’s a proposal to build a roundabout adjacent to the school, as if that was going to make the road safer, when traffic lights and speed reduction measures would be more effective. Suffice to say the natives were not happy. Then it happened. Developers made a proposal for 150 houses approved at a behind closed doors meeting with the chair of the Parish Council and the land owner.
At the next Parish council meeting the mood was even angrier but we were told that we were powerless to do anything about it, because a decision made at local level would be overruled by the County Council, who have the power to do that under planning laws. The parish councillors narrowly voted in favour of approving the proposal anyway. Why stop at 150, we asked? What about 200? Or 2000?
What is the point of a Parish Council that doesn’t represent the views of most villagers? It’s no wonder that good and long-standing members of the Parish council are resigning in protest. Oh there are some who think it’s a good thing, providing houses for younger people etcetera, but they have scant all to say about the expensive infrastructure problems, and the lack of local services, like buses for instance. The extra houses that are being built on the edge of the local town make sense because the town has services, like a high school, a train station, local shops, supermarkets, bus services, a doctor’s surgery, dentists, and approval for a road to bypass the town centre etc. The family we bought our house from were moving back to the town because their teenagers felt like they lived in the middle of nowhere and had to get taxis or rely on their parents to ferry them around so they could socialise with their friends who, you’ve guessed it, live in the town. The back of an envelope ‘proposal’ for our village has not been thought through.
Though all this is a nice little earner for some, of course. The County Council gets 19 grand for every house built, though that didn’t stop them putting Council taxes up at twice the level of inflation. The local authorities in connivance with land owners selling their land for exorbitant amounts, and developers seeing what they can get away with, are doing what they like at the expense of villages and the countryside. The governments deregulated planning reforms have gone way too far in practice, and should be reined in. Fat chance of that no doubt. It seems they won’t be happy until the whole effin country is concreted over. Everywhere you turn, ordinary people are being shafted. Green and pleasant land? The political apparatchiks at local and national level don’t know the meaning of those words.
I haven’t mentioned the name of my village, because this scenario is happening up and down the country.
Guest Writer Gary McGhee is a semi-retired screenwriter, loving the outdoor life with his partner in the Norfolk countryside. Gary was ‘red-pilled’ before it became fashionable, and believes in liberty, freedom, modernism, and defying herd-mentalities.