Dear Sir,
The Great Aycliffe Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire starts by asking ‘What is Your Vision for Great Aycliffe?’ then goes on to ask a series of loaded and/or peripheral questions without giving the respondent the chance to give opinions on the most important issue.
For example, it asks whether we should have a say on what type of houses we want, but fails to ask the more important question of whether we actually want any more houses at all; it asks where are the best places for development, but doesn’t give us the option of saying ‘nowhere’ in this town.
It seems to me that the Council has already decided there will be residential expansion, but is going through the process to be seen to have consultation purely to fulfil legal requirements. The consultation document looks like a sham designed to support what has been decided already. There will probably be a few minor window dressing changes to make the process appear meaningful, but I fear that isn’t the reality.
Newton Aycliffe already covers a large area. I see no valid reason why it would be desirable for it to cover a still larger one, with yet more people.
It may be argued that more houses and more people means more buying power, and more likelihood of new businesses coming to the town. However, Tesco and Lidl seem to be busy enough already, suggesting it is not lack of potential customers that is putting businesses off coming to the town, but some other reason(s).
Personally I would not like to see Newton Aycliffe any busier than it is now. I don’t want it to be like Darlington, where you can’t go anywhere without getting into an horrendous traffic jam.
If there has to be expansion, I must say I also have no confidence in the area’s road designers. Just look at the debacle of a roundabout they designed at Thinford. There’s also one on the way out of Darlington going to Middlesbrough (perhaps a different designer, but probably going to the same school!). Are we to have another one on the A167? Some of our roads, such as Stevenson Way, Shafto Way and Pease Way are already subject to some of the most ill thought out traffic calming measures devisable, and I have every confidence that any new roads would be equally badly thought out as these examples.
I have heard it argued that more people are needed because there will be more businesses. That’s just not necessarily the case.
The town already has a lot of people, many being unemployed, and there are many towns and villages within easy commuting distance, such as Darlington, Shildon and Bishop Auckland. There are many examples of business areas that aren’t right next to houses. There is absolutely no reason why the Business Park can’t expand significantly and successfully without the town’s population skyrocketing. A properly reasoned case has yet to be made (and/or conveyed) for expanding the town beyond it’s existing size. Perhaps one of our councillors or our MP would like to enlighten us on Council thinking on this important matter?
John Snowball