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Green Party rejects premise of the Penrith Strategic Masterplan 

Dick O’Brien, Chair of Penrith and Eden Green Party

Penrith and Eden Green Party today announced its opposition to the Penrith Strategic Masterplan and called for it to be scrapped.

Dick O’Brien, Chair of Penrith and Eden Green Party, said: “The Green Party seeks to secure a sustainable future for us all, and it is now clearer than ever that urgent action is needed to achieve it. The Penrith Masterplan fails woefully to address the fundamental changes that are required – in the way we live, our buildings, communities and our whole infrastructure – to address this critical issue. If we want our children to be able to enjoy social wellbeing in a healthy environment, Eden District Council needs to recognise that action must start now.”

A report published recently by the International Panel on Climate Change highlighted the critical urgency of measures to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade. Climate change is already causing increasingly disruptive weather conditions and scientists warn of catastrophic impacts on human populations and the wider environment.

Mr O’Brien commented: “Tackling this global problem requires local action everywhere – changing the way we live in terms of transport, housing, land use, and the production and consumption of goods and services. The Masterplan simply does not address these issues adequately. While the Green Party acknowledges the need for plans to address the serious problems of a low wage, low skill economy, an ageing population, inadequate housing supply and transport infrastructure, it argues that such planning must be done with real insight into what the future holds in terms of both threats and opportunities.”

The Green Party is highlighting other towns and cities in the UK, such as Bicester, and across Europe, such as the German city of Freiburg, that are leading the way in sustainable development, and asks why Eden District Council has missed this opportunity to do the same for Penrith.

Penrith Town Councillor, Doug Lawson, said: “Carbon reduction, air quality improvement and environmental protection should be clearly stated objectives for any planning process. Sustainability should be a fundamental core of the plan, not tokenistic “green” technology extras that developers will be free to drop.

“Attracting economic investment to the area must be a priority to reverse the decline in the working age population and Eden District Council requires an effective investment strategy. But development of sustainable housing and infrastructure commensurate with a growing population should proceed only once appropriate inward investment is secured.”

Bicester’s Masterplan, titled ‘Thinking About Tomorrow’, says: “We’re pioneering town growth in North West Bicester that protects green spaces, natural wildlife habitats and makes it easy to get around without a car”. It seeks a “zero-carbon future”.

Cllr Lawson said: “It is from this kind of foundation that a masterplan for Penrith should start. In contrast to the secretive and undemocratic development of the Penrith plan, Bicester has emphasised community participation from the outset.”

Freiburg is a small and thriving German city that has sought over several decades to underpin all development with sustainability principles. Since 2011 it has had a Sustainability Management Unit as a coordination and central control office reporting directly to the Mayor, to systematically develop the ‘green profile’ of the City. It has achieved impressive results so far in terms of integrated zero-carbon transport, housing, education and industrial development.

Cllr Lawson stated: “Penrith and Eden Green Party is calling for the Masterplan to be scrapped, not because planning is not needed but because the goals and criteria against which such a plan is judged need to be changed and the public needs to be properly engaged and consulted in its development. The Party calls for a new Masterplan to be developed on the basis of clear evidence, analysis of demographic and social trends, sustainability principles, and overseen by a transparent and democratic political process.”

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