The Liberal Democrat administration at Three Rivers with the support of the Labour Group defeated a Conservative motion at the Policy and Resources Committee meeting on the 12 June to abandon the proposed redevelopment of the old WRVS site in the Bury .
Over 150 local residents opposed to the development crammed the Council Chamber. Cllr Ralph Sangster, who had proposed the motion said:
This development will provide temporary accommodation for 15 family units of four and 2 couples totalling 64 human beings in a space no larger than two tennis courts. They will live in units which are little better than the accommodation currently being provided elsewhere and acknowledged as being socially unacceptable.
But according to the Liberal Democratic Administration it’s not about the money. The units have no internal or external amenity space, poor parking provision and limited access through a flood plain. We now know that far from being temporary a family of four will more than likely spend in excess of 12 months living in these conditions.
The impact of this development is acknowledged by planning officers to be harmful to the Rickmansworth Conservation area and local heritage assets and will destroy the quiet and tranquil area of the Historic Bury.
What it seems to be about, but shouldn’t be, is this Council institutionalising socially unacceptable family accommodation in a purpose built development.
We have to do better. We cannot condemn families to a miserable existence because it will save money.
Yes! save money, because this development is as much about saving money as it is about anything else. The Council is prepared to pile it high and build it cheap to save money. The papers provided in the recommendations of the P&R committee meeting held on the 8 November 2016 make it clear.
“In order to make progress on this site (the WRVS site) Members are asked to approve the Business case for Temporary Accommodation. If the recommended option is followed, (that is to build modular accommodation) the Council would expect to achieve an annual income stream of £140,000 (net) and a potential reduction in the cost of temporary accommodation placements of £200,000 each year.”
That’s a total saving of £320,000 which was subsequently built into the Councils Budget for 2017.
If it were not about the money then we would not be building this unacceptable, high density, inhuman, poorly designed, inadequately provisioned and damaging development.
We would be looking for a suitable alternative site on which we could build accommodation for those vulnerable families who desperately need it which is fit for purpose and of a standard we could all be proud of.
The motion before us calls upon this Council to abandon this ill conceived development and seek to do better for those families in our community which in their hour of need depend on us to provide them with a great deal better than this shabby excuse for a refuge.