I returned from the Easter break today to the good news that a planning application to transform the derelict Cashes Green Hospital in Stroud into new homes and community facilities has been submitted to the local planning authority to consider.
I blogged in January about the impressive level of consultation that had gone into shaping the proposals that have been submitted to Stroud District Council. Hundreds of people living near the site have been engaged, through attending the regular consultation events, having newsletters sent to their home or reading the dozens of media articles that have reported on the plans in recent months. In many ways the consultation led by Hab Oakus, a joint venture led by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and GreenSquare Group, has been textbook stuff.
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Cornwall’s house price problem hit the headlines again today, with news that local MP Stephen Gilbert can’t afford to buy a house in his constituency.
Mr Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, put his PR skills to good use by using his own circumstances to highlight the problems faced by locals who have no hope of saving for a 20% deposit in high value areas like Cornwall.
Former council leader, now Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has spoken today about how the principles underpinning his Localism Bill can help transform our cities.
Speaking at The Economist’s Liveable Cities Conference, he outlined his belief that the bill’s key principle – handing power to local people – can be used to fuel economic growth in our metropolitan areas. Until now, most things I have heard or read about localism have focused on the impact of its policies on smaller, rural communities. But it is right to point out that local communities can be found in cities, and wherever people live.
So, the principle of giving city halls more responsibility for housing, planning and economic growth is as relevant to Bristol and Manchester as the grass-roots localism in action in High Bickington, Devon, where villagers are developing housing and community facilities which will be owned by a local group.
Victorian Birmingham and its leader Joseph Chamberlain was spoken of to evoke a vision of the city’s great heritage and global importance.
Today’s leaders will soon find out how well localism works in their cities. The full text of the speech, a vision for cities, can be found here.