Owl says: bet this wouldn’t happen in the Republic of East Devon! And wonders if a “zombie town” of which they speak might be on our own doorstep!
“Three of Britain’s biggest housebuilders have lost an attempt to change the plans for a garden town designed by Prince Charles’s architects, amid claims that the builders’ proposals would have created a “zombie town”.
The Sherford Valley, on the outskirts of Plymouth, had been earmarked for 5,500 new homes and was designed by the Prince’s Foundation to create an eco-friendly pedestrian community like Poundbury in Dorset.
Bovis Homes, Linden Homes and Taylor Wimpey, which bought the site in 2014, had applied to Plymouth council to water down the design rules and change Prince Charles’s plan so that they could build cheaper homes more quickly.
Councillors said that the move would have created a “zombie town” with “years of planning thrown out of the window” and rejected their application.
The builders had built fewer than 300 of the homes when they applied to amend the town code and master plan.
“Instead of having the highest standard of new homes, we will instead have a rather large housing estate,” Vivien Pengelly, a councillor, said.
The housebuilders said that they were asking for minor changes that would not have affected the quality of homes. However, Ben Bolgar, a director of the Prince’s Foundation, said that they were trying to strip out commitments to quality.
He said that Sherford was designed to prove that Prince Charles’s model village of Poundbury, near Dorchester, could work on a larger scale but that the builders were determined to “build their normal boxes”.
The design code meant that the builders had to produce a range of houses, built from local materials, which were not more than 500m from the shops. Cars had to be parked in hidden courtyards rather than on the street to encourage people to walk.
Mr Bolgar said that the builders’ plans would have transformed Sherford into a “rubbish housing estate”.
Jonny Morris, a councillor, said that he did not want Sherford to end up like the sort of place you would see “in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse”.
Housing companies applied to ditch a town code drawn up 13 years ago and replace it with a set of “fundamental principles” which they said allowed them greater flexibility over materials and construction methods.
“This is simply far too premature to take such a radical act, disregarding all those measures that allowed permission to be granted in the first place,” Nick Kelly, the deputy lord mayor, said. “We want development but everybody thinks, ‘This is what we’re going to get’, and at the stroke of a pen years of planning and assurances go out of the window.”
Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, who wrote a report in 2015 calling for dozens of new garden villages, said that Sherford had an excellent town plan and was “overwhelmingly supported by the local community” because of its commitment to quality. “The housebuilders knew what they were signing up to. There should really be no question about what will be delivered,” he said.”