Stratford is without doubt one of the most beautiful and desirable parts of England. I love this area, and love living and working locally. It’s also true that we need affordable housing for our young people. But South Warwickshire itself is growing unsustainably. Our elderly population is growing at 36% every decade — an astonishing figure.
The desirability of Stratford makes it attractive to wealthy buyers, but the need of people who live here now is affordable housing. The appetite of developers, though, is for luxury accommodation which maximises profits on the land available. But do we have the services which can support this? Even now, the County Council is still pushing to reduce our number of fire-stations, fire-fighters and appliances. The NHS here receives proportionately less money per person than most of the rest of the UK, because the York formula, on which allocation is calculated, takes deprivation into account, but not age. Currently NHS services in South Warwickshire are very good — but a massive influx of people will stretch them. Roads will become more congested, suburbs will grow up with no particular community focus and no community tradition.
Of course there is a balance and a trade-off. It’s easy to shout ‘not in my back yard’, and suggest that any change is bad change. But I’ve now listened to dozens of people who are well informed on planning, development and sustainability issues. All of them are saying the same thing: the proposed developments are just too much.