DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT WILLOW WAY?
Do you live in Barrow?
Do you know where Willow Way is?
Do you know about the proposed development planned for Willow Way?
I can answer yes to all of the above questions but when I was asked to write something about the possible expansion
of the Willow Way area I realised how limited my knowledge was. I decided to see what I could find out and have
a think about what this might mean to me, my family and the village in general. The only thoughts I had about this
focused on the impact that these extra houses may have on the traffic usage of village roads. This is from a purely
selfish viewpoint as I travel daily to my job, which is not in Barrow, and because of the distance involved, using public
transport is not an option.
I discovered that the proposed plan is to build 360 new houses and I understand that the Parish Council has
made representations to ensure that a percentage of these will be 'affordable' housing rather than all of them
being 'executive' type homes. I also ascertained that these houses will be built in phases of about 30 properties
at a time and that the developers will hold an exhibition, showing the plan, which will be held at the Parish
Council offices. What impact will these new homes and the additional population, over 1000 new residents,
have on the village infrastructure? The road system, I have already mentioned. Together with the village school
and the Health Centre, these are three main areas which will be affected.
Can our roads cope?
Let's consider the roads first of all. Any of you that travel into and out of the village at peak times will already
know that the current road system has difficulty coping with the volume of traffic at these times. Although HGV's
are now controlled by the weight restriction, there are large numbers of vehicles that come through, from the
Wolds villages, to access the A6. When the floods are out, the only way out of the Soar valley, for those
heading north, is through Barrow. At these times there is almost a 'gridlock' situation especially if the post van has
called to pick up goods from the Post Office in the High Street or if the supermarket goods delivery has arrived.
What is the answer?
Not to have any more housing developments! I don't think so, but does the village need a bypass? Do we start campaigning now? Is there
some other alternative? I just think it is something that, as residents of Barrow, you should consider and be aware of.
The new houses will bring additional traffic into the village and you might want to ask the developer how they view this situation, do they
have a satisfactory solution?
How will health care be affected?
Secondly, think about the Health Centre off the High Street, behind the supermarket. How long do you wait to see a doctor? With this new
system for 'booking in' on the day you want to be seen, how many times do you ring before you get through because the lines are engaged?
Have you seen the queue each weekday morning, waiting outside, before opening time? The remedy might be for patients to consider
another surgery but individuals have to be comfortable with this, they build up doctor/patient relationships and not everyone
has the means to travel elsewhere for this service. Perhaps it is time for the existing centre to think about expansion or is there a case for
asking the developers to build a new one?
Already the largest primary school
Finally, what about the primary school? Did you know that Hall Orchard is the largest (numbers on roll) primary school in the county? I am sure
that the facility and the staff would cope with the additional numbers that are bound to be generated by the new estate but is it time for the
village to have another school? It might be worth asking the builders to also consider this within their plans. Think about the advantages,
for parents and children. It could mean that children on that side of the village would not have to cross a main road to get to school. It
should also help to alleviate the awful parking problem around the current school at the start and end of the school day. It would enable
children to enjoy a more close-knit, family type atmosphere at their first school rather than being overwhelmed by the huge numbers that
the existing school will be dealing with.
These are just my simple observations and may give you food for thought regarding this proposed new development. You may have
other opinions but I hope that it has raised your awareness and that you will be encouraged to look out for details of the forthcoming exhibition
and to attend. Make the developers ware of your concerns and find out what their solution is but don't be afraid to make your own
WILLOW WAY AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The residents of Barrow will have many concerns and interests in the massive Willow Way development: How will the extra traffic be managed (or won't
it)? How will our two schools cope with the extra pupils? How will health care of a high standard be achieved? 360 extra houses are likely to accommodate
over 1000 new residents-that is roughly a 20% increase.
I would like to think of this development as an opportunity rather than a series of threats. I hope that the new residents will feel welcome and will quickly
add to our wonderful community spirit. One opportunity that we have is to influence the kind of housing that is built on Willow Way. Last year, a group
of residents formed the Willow Way Development Group and met up with the Charnwood Borough Council Social Housing Officer. Their recommendations
are now a basis for negotiation between the two developers, Wilson Homes and Millers, and Charnwood Borough Council.
- There should be properties identified as suitable for young couples to help them get into the housing market via shared ownership. This
means that they can elect to pay a small percentage of the purchase price, with the remainder bought by a Housing Association. As the income
of the young couple rises, they have the option to buy progressively more. Whether or not they can achieve a 100% purchase depends on the
option agreed between the Council and the Housing Association. It is possible that there will be a ceiling of, eg 85% in perpetuity. In this case, a
couple wishing to fully own their home would have to sell and buy a different property. At this point, the Housing Association would buy back
when the part-owner sold.
- This shared ownership should be made available only to local people living within a particular post code area.
- There should be housing that is appropriate for older people wanting to buy smaller properties such as apartments.
- There should be some properties available for social rent. Such properties would be bought and managed by Housing Associations but
Charnwood Borough Council would initially retain full nomination rights ie to identify people on their register for whom 'council housing' could
be offered in Willow Way. The Right to Buy legislation does not apply in this situation because the properties are owned by a Housing
Association and not the Council. As tenants leave, the Council nomination rights are reduced as they are transferred to the Housing Association.
- All of this affordable housing should be dotted around in the development, not creating a ghetto.
In response to these points, the Borough Housing Department has requested the developers to include the following on the Willow Way site:
20 two-bedroom houses for shared ownership, 15 three-bedroom houses for social rent, 10 two-bedroom apartments
At the time of writing, we don't know what the developers will submit to the Planning Department. Perhaps by the time you read this, Barrow residents
will have had their opportunity to comment and consult. If not, look out for posters advertising a drop-in clinic in the Parish Council Office in the High
Street. Plans will be displayed and representatives of the developers and planners will be present to answer your questions or listen to your comments.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!