One question that comes to mind when considering a new town is what provision will be put in place to keep new and nearby residents safe from any subsequent increase in crime or anti-social behaviour.
It is very clear from the application documentation that this has been very poorly considered. Lip service has been paid to including an unsubstantiated amount of funding but no details of what this will involve has been provided. Indeed it can be seen from the response to the application submitted by Thames Valley Police (TVP) (Ian Carmichael – Crime Prevention Design Advisor – Oxfordshire – Local Policing) that they have not even been consulted by Homes England in the planning stage.
Mr Carmichael has raised concerns as to the design and layout of the proposed new town stating that it is likely to be problematic in crime prevention design terms. As it stands the proposed development may not meet the requirements of Section 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2019 which provides that developments should create places that are safe, inclusive, and accessible and where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion and resilience. In addition, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government Planning Practice Guidance on ‘Design’ states that the following issues should be considered when designing a new community: safe, connected and efficient streets; crime prevention; security measures; and cohesive and vibrant neighbourhoods.
The Design and Access Statement submitted with Homes England’s application does not adequately deal with crime and disorder and has been produced with no advice or guidance being sought from TVP. There is no doubt that a new town of the size proposed will have an impact on local crime and disorder (anti-social behaviour), and clearly has the potential to have a significant impact on current policing resources. It is utterly astounding that Homes England has not addressed such important issues with TVP which is, sadly, indicative of the arrogance and lack of care that they have shown throughout this whole process.
There are many design concerns in relation to the proposed development. These are a selection for you to consider:
a) Parking provision: what will be provided for the proposed blocks of flats? Rear parking courts, car ports, under croft parking, or separate garages, make vehicles and the rear of properties extremely vulnerable. They also often attract anti-social behaviour and are often abandoned in favour of residents parking in front of dwellings.
b) Permeability (i.e. the connectivity of a development – the extent to which it’s design permits (or restricts) the movement of people or vehicles in different directions): much is made of this by Homes England, but excessive permeability is likely to attract crime/anti-social behaviour, aid criminal search behaviour and provide escape routes for offenders.
c) Landscaping and Lighting: shrubs and trees must be kept to appropriate heights to enable clear views (natural surveillance) and avoid providing hiding places. Lighting must be provided to all streets, footpaths, cycle ways, and communal parking areas.
d) Vehicle intrusion: measures to prevent vehicle intrusion on to any segregated pedestrian routes and open public spaces must be provided.
e) Play areas and recreational facilities: careful consideration must be given to its location; equipment; lighting; landscaping etc. The design should promote enjoyment for all users and child safety, whilst deterring anti-social behaviour. Sufficient provision for our youth must also form part of the proposals.
On these issues alone the planning application should be refused. The design put forward by Homes England is ill-conceived and raises many grave concerns relating to crime and security, not just for the new residents but also existing communities.