Talking to Conservative Home, Head of Aylesbury Vale and District Council Neil Blake shared his thoughts for the year ahead.
"My new year certainly got off to a busy start with the announcement on Monday, 2nd January that Aylesbury is one of the three new areas to join the Government’s existing Garden Town programme. There has been much interest since about what this will actually mean for the town and area. Aylesbury has a long history of growth and our emerging local plan proposes the town will continue to play a significant role in meeting the housing needs of the area over the next 20 years.
"We are currently planning for about 27,000 new homes across the district, and almost 15,000 of these will be in and around Aylesbury town. Therefore, ensuring this scale of growth is planned and delivered in the most sustainable and transformational way is critical. Our ambition is quite simple – to ensure the developments across Aylesbury offer the best of town and country living, creating truly desirable communities with new affordable housing, in an environment to make us proud.
"We have already made great progress with some recently approved schemes such as the Kingsbrook development of 2,450 homes. The developers partnered with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to set a new benchmark for nature-friendly housing schemes. Kingsbrook will be the first development to pioneer this innovative approach and we’re delighted this is happening in Aylesbury.
"So the bid agreed by central Government will enable us to fine-tune our longer term masterplan and delivery framework for Aylesbury’s growth with detailed proposals for transport, green and community infrastructure improvements. It also helps us to have explicit design guides for the town, and sets out the standards that existing, and new, communities can expect by providing clear information to the development industry on what they are expected to deliver in their schemes.
"I know that, alongside improved transport connections, design is a very important aspect for the local community and this will be a key feature of the work we’ll be able to take forward with the Garden Town programme. Effective community engagement has to be a priority, and we all know that planning is one of those topics where everyone has a view, so let’s make the most of that engagement with our communities.
"Another key aim for us is to make best use of the contacts we have with Government and other agencies, such as the Homes and Community Agency, through this programme. This will help us to secure additional investment and expertise for probably the most important issue that we, as local government leaders, have to get right – not just for our existing residents and communities but also for those new ones we’re planning.
"I wish you all a positive, productive and rewarding 2017….I know it’s going to be an exciting one for Aylesbury."