Apply the terms of our Community Charter to Planning Application P/19/0407/FUL

Apply the terms of our Community Charter to Planning Application P/19/0407/FUL

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We, the signatories to this document, hereby express our will and desire to apply the terms of the Community Charter for Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood to planning application P/19/0407/FUL, relating to Grace Church’s proposal to construct a Class 10 Non-Residential Institution in the heart of our residential community. 

The Charter “pertains to any development within our territory which impacts on our Cultural Heritage and, as this Charter is a direct expression from the people, it must be a material consideration in planning processes and decision-making… and must be given equal weight to other factors in the evaluation of whether development is sustainable.”

The Charter states “if a threat to our Cultural Heritage is perceived then we have a fundamental right and responsibility to play an integral role in related decision-making.”

“Cultural Heritage means a group of resources inherited from the past which are identified, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of a community’s constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge, practices and traditions.  It includes all experiences of the cultural, social and ecological environment resulting from the interaction between people, places and ecosystems through time: and includes but is not limited to the Assets within our territory.”

Our community is a fledgling one, and so typical of 21st century Scotland with diverse demographics and modern, well-designed streets forming a pleasant and welcoming for all family-oriented estate.  That is the community we chose to live in, and one that the application is clearly at odds with.

A commitment has been made to “truly Sustainable Development” within our community, defined as “those activities which present an overall long term benefit or zero harm to our Assets.”

“Assets” are defined as “those matters, qualities, assets (both tangible and intangible) listed under “Our Assets”, which our communities have agreed to be the factors within our territory that we value as fundamental to maintaining the integrity, stability and beauty of our Cultural Heritage for present and future generations.”

A total of 16 Assets are listed as “Our Assets” and further defined.  We note below those of relevance to this application, maintaining the numbering in the Charter:

2) Our children and that which promotes their wholesome development: a diverse and healthy natural environment; safe roads and tracks; great schools and services; and a mutually trusting, self-sustaining and stable community.

3) Our homes as our sanctuary and investment: the fruit of our labours and somewhere we chose carefully as a good and right place to settle and raise our children.

4) The resilience and continuity of our community: our local groups, events, businesses and services; our friendly interrelationships and economic interdependencies; and our visions, values, history and culture, all of which when shared, bind us together and provide good traditions, solid foundations and shining examples for generations to come.

13) Our reputation as a beautiful and welcoming place to live, to visit and to take holidays.  The hard work, values and commitment that have contributed to this achievement and the win-win rewards it delivers for our local economy, our visitors, and our people and natural surroundings. 

14) Our goal of sharing mutual trust and respect with our elected representatives and third parties: to trust they genuinely value and foster our knowledge, experience, needs and feelings; and whose leadership, policies and actions demonstrate they seek to sustain and improve our Assets.

15) The life-enhancing qualities which our Assets naturally bring forth, these further Intangible Assets are:

a)      Hope and confidence in a better future for our community.

b)      Good health, which is fundamental to the quality of life and economy of present and future generations;

d)      Contentment in our choice of place to settle and raise future generations.

f)       Rich and diverse experiences: individual, social, natural and economic.

g)      Stable foundations – sociocultural and ecological – upon which to build identity, meaning, community and legacy.

j)       Civic pride in our local reputation, history, culture, places, traditions and our goal of a sustainable economy.

k)      Mutual trust within our community, and with government leaders, policies and processes; and developers and newcomers.

16) A collective commitment to sustaining and improving all of the above, taking great pride in our achievements over the past few decades and maintaining our ambition with our future aspirations. 

“These Assets were collectively agreed over a series of public meetings” involving a diverse group of local residents and so set out the democratically agreed position formed by our community for the benefit of generations to come. 

As members of the community, we draw your attention to the conflict between our democratically agreed Cultural Heritage and Assets and this application P/19/0407/FUL.  Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, it poses a threat to:

1)      The safety of our children, and pedestrians generally, from the significant and dangerous increase in traffic and on-road parking, which our streets are not designed to withstand and cannot be amended to;

2)      The harm to our children’s wholesome development by the operation of a divisive building in the centre of our community, forging mistrust and instability;

3)      Our community being a good and right place to settle and raise our children;

4)      The sense of sanctuary we feel in the community we have invested in as our home by the development of a building we state unequivocally is contrary to our will, and contrary to the promises made by the developers and local authority regarding our “village centre” when drawing us to live here;

5)      Our friendly interrelationships, mutual trust, and shared values and culture;

6)      Our reputation and civic pride as a welcoming place to live and visit due to the discriminatory stance the applicant holds against sections of our community and society at large;

7)      Our hope and confidence in a better future for our community were a development to be permitted that we perceive will be a negative presence; and

8)      The mental health of those members of our community against whom the applicant discriminates and who would, at best, feel unwelcome in the only community access building in our “village centre”.

Sustainable Development is further defined as an undertaking to “meet the 5 guiding principles in the UK Shared Framework for Sustainable Development (2005).”  One of those principles is: “Ensuring a Strong, Healthy and Just Society: Meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity for all.”     

This clear, democratically agreed commitment by our community is not met by this application. 

We reiterate our commitment to truly Sustainable Development, which requires zero harm to our Assets.  The development proposed in this application would give rise to clear harm to our Assets.  Per the terms of the Charter, to the extent that is the case it must be treated as a material consideration when determining the outcome of this application. 

The Charter sets out a further method by which it can give rise to a material consideration – the process of Participatory Planning.  It states “We acknowledge that individual opinions may differ…. but believe that, through a dialogue in which all stakeholders are given equal voice, a wise collective assessment can be reached. In turn, this necessitates a process for Participatory Planning in relation to developments relevant to this Charter.”

Circa 950 supporting comments have been lodged in the planning portal.  Representatives from amongst us are willing to engage in the Participatory Planning process with any residents of our community amongst that number.  To date, a public request for them to establish contact to arrange a meeting has produced no response.  In the continued absence of such a response, we contend it is to be assumed that either there are no supporting local residents, or those who there are do not wish to participate in the prescribed process or seek to rely on our shared Community Charter, as we do.  That is our position.  If you disagree with it, we call upon you to arrange and advertise the proposed meeting for attendance by all who wish to participate.  We request that admission to the meeting is strictly subject to proof of address from all attendees and declaration of any conflicts of interest.

The Charter concludes by detailing several Articles setting out the Basic Rights and Responsibilities of the Community in circumstances such as these:

Article 1: Basic Right to Self-Agency

1)      This Charter declares a basic right for the peoples of a community to have agency over those Assets in its territory it has agreed are integral to human and environmental health and well-being, for both present and future generations.

2)      In exercising the basic right under sub-article (1), the peoples of a community:

(a)    have a right to promote the integrity, stability and beauty of their Cultural Heritage, through the sustenance and improvement of its constitutive Assets; and

(b)    have a right to Sustainable Development.

Article 2: Basic Responsibility

We have a basic responsibility towards improving and safeguarding the Assets in our territory insofar as our rights under Article 1 are not infringed.

Article 3: Principles for Participatory Planning

1)      In fulfilling our responsibility under Article 2 in relation to an application for development made within our territory, we:

(b)    Have a right to Participatory Planning which upholds and does not infringe our rights under Article 1.

(c)    Have a right, as an outcome of Participatory Planning, to an integral role in stewarding planning agreements, conditions or social licenses to safeguard our rights under Article 1.

3)      As a direct expression from the people, we declare a right for any decisions emerging from the process under this Article to be a material consideration in related decision-making processes on the basis that our people and natural environment bear the burden of any risk.”

The Charter makes clear that it applies to the residents of the individual communities forming Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood, as those people most greatly affected by the risk arising from proposed development within their community.  It formally recognises the views of our community regarding our sense of place as being absolutely primary and integral to decisions regarding development within it.  We hereby formally put on record our desire to exercise our basic rights and responsibilities as set out in the Charter.  We request your express confirmation that its terms will be applied to planning application P/19/0407/FUL in full and as intended, and as a material consideration. 

 

 

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