In the last couple of weeks the bombshell has burst. The Wealden District Council Plan includes an extra 9,000 homes in and around Hailsham over the next twenty years or so. It would double the size of the town. Already the battle lines are being drawn and quills are scratching across the paper in protest.
One of the problems is that like Canute found the tide of house building is not going to back down! There is a screaming need for new housing that is not going to abate. The reality is that house building and housing provision has fallen well short of what it should be. This has been said many times before and as a result more houses will be built. It is a battle that the ‘absolutely no new building’ protesters are not going to win. We all have to face the reality that our towns are going to change. By far the most significant problem is that around Hailsham the infrastructure is already unable to cope. Water services have got to be significantly upgraded, roads have got to be re-thought along with how people get around, more schools and doctors’ surgeries are needed, leisure and shopping facilities need vast improvement and bigger and better employment facilities are needed. All this is known and is in the District Council Plan, but the difficulty is the scepticism in the authorities being able to deliver. Past record is not good by looking at what has been done thus far. Developments have proceeded apace with unfulfilled promises of schools and community facilities.
The Church will play its part. The Diocesan Strategy to contribute to the Common Good will help to put in place resources which can help in social action, providing resources for food banks and support for those in need. It is recognised that only by combining resources can an effective difference be made. It is why the meetings of the Hailsham Community Forum of local voluntary and connected bodies have been so good. We network and find out what each other is doing. In exactly the same way if we are to help create the communities we want we must all combine resources so that as near as we can we speak with one voice. We then stand a chance of being heard. The reality is that there will be more new building. Even a fraction of what is proposed will change our community. Now is the time to join our efforts and make sure the community we build now is somewhere our children will thank us for!