We spent a long time considering the pros and cons of imposing a moratorium on building for Stewarton. At the same time it also recognised that we need to address the existing issues. We came to the conclusion that the key to finding a solution to the need for additional infrastructure development lies in earmarking a limited release of land within LDP2.
Without doing this, we could not, for example, provide a new school or a central site large enough to accommodate long term community and health needs. We are concerned that if we do not respond to housing need, and find ways of unlocking infrastructure constraints, that during examination of the Proposed Plan by the Scottish Government the Reporter would determine that there is a need to identify a site or numerous sites for housing in Stewarton.
This scenario would be very likely given the huge demand displayed by developers during the consultation process, and in such an event we would lose any control over which sites were used.
By identifying a site for housing, which also helps to address infrastructure constraints in education with related knock-on effects on other sites to address other constraints, we are recognising housing and other infrastructure needs.
We feel it is unlikely that any Reporter (Scottish Government) would find a moratorium on development acceptable because there is a requirement for infrastructure providers, including the Council and other bodies such as Scottish Water, to address demand. This means, in planning terms, a lack of infrastructure would not be an acceptable reason to stall development.
We have had a large number of submissions from developers and land owners around almost the whole settlement boundary, looking for sites to be released.
Most of the land around Stewarton is privately owned and is already under option to house developers. We do not own any land on the outskirts of the town. These developers and land owners are likely to object to their sites not being included in the Plan. The approach we have taken is based on research and evidence and promotes infrastructure first and we feel is the right approach towards limited growth.