Today on You and Yours an expert on contemporary art stated that every year members of the public are ‘consulted’ about what art works should be considered by the judges of the Turner Prize. However, he then went on to say that their suggestions almost certainly go straight into the waste paper basket. The actual decision is then made by a panel of the great and the good. (Recent winners of the prize are pictured above).
This type of so called ‘consultation’ is pretty typical today. Bodies do not carry out real consultations, but virtual ones. People may be ‘consulted’ but the decision maker goes on to do what he was going to do anyway, having ticked the public consultation box along the way. The recent ‘consultation’ on the closure of local post offices was a typical, and shameful, example.
Well readers I have to tell you that this is not what happened at All Saints Middle School yesterday evening, when Ashwells, the developers of Chilton Woods, brought back revised plans for the very first part of the scheme. Following a rather stormy meeting some weeks ago (reported on the blog in January under the title 'Echoes of the past and ecos of the future'), the developers, and (probably) the County Council, have clearly listened to what was being said to them and have come back with a scheme that, on the face of it, is far more acceptable to local residents.
The thing, you may remember, that had really upset people was the loss of almost all of what is currently a pleasant green open space behind their homes. Many had not even realised that this area was in fact designated for development, and were understandably very upset at this loss of amenity. Ashwell’s presentation of the revised plans was amusingly disingenuous. Three options were shown. The original plan with 14 houses and hardly any green space, a plan B with 13 houses and a bit more open space, and a plan C with 11 (smaller) houses and a lot more open space. Which one did the public prefer? Well I don’t think I have to tell you!
But criticism is ungenerous. Ashwells certainly demonstrated that they had listened to what was being said to them, and had taken action accordingly. I look forward to seeing the final plans when the application comes in to Babergh.
I hope that the same degree of sensitivity to local opinion will be demonstrated by the developers going forward. The only thing that worries me is that if it takes this long to get 11 houses sorted, how long will it take to consult on the other approximately 700 – 800? I’m not sure how many more evenings at All Saints Middle School I can take!