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Sustainability - what does it mean for our Plan

Thu 2nd February

Stratford’s Neighbourhood Plan will be looking at possible developments that might be started in the town over the next 20 years – but these developments themselves will last much longer. This is something we’re well aware of in Stratford: some of the town’s best known buildings are hundreds of years old. And many of the buildings we think of as modern date back 40 or 50 years

So when we are planning for the future, we need to try to anticipate changes and make sure things are sustainable: that they won’t get out of date or fail to work in the way we expected. This is, of course, very difficult! But it’s possible to look at some trends and ask how they might affect the way we are planning.

Take energy as an example. Modern lives are very energy intensive: we consume far more energy nowadays than we did a generation ago. We heat our homes to higher temperatures and use more electric equipment and gadgets. We drive further and more frequently; our homes and jobs are often miles apart and public transport does not provide an easy option for travel. Food and other domestic goods come to us by lorry – even food grown locally will be carried hundreds of miles to a distribution centre before returning to our local supermarket!

Riverside.jpgBut if we take energy as an example, we also know that energy costs are rising sharply – and are expected to go on rising. Oil in particular – vital as it is to our personal transport and food supplies – is getting more difficult and expensive to extract. And too many sources of oil are at high risk of disruption. So how sustainable is our energy intensive way of life

Can Stratford’s Neighbourhood Plan help here? Well, it can try to take account of these risks and propose ways to reduce or eliminate them. For example, new buildings – both homes and commercial properties – could be built to high standards of energy efficiency, so that their need for energy is much reduced. Programmes to make existing buildings more energy efficient could be promoted.

We could look to see whether we could generate more energy locally. And we could try to increase the availability of locally grown food. None of these would be a complete answer, but the Neighbourhood Plan could aim to foster these and other positive developments.

Energy provides only one example of ways to think about sustaining the future. Can you think of others? Add your ideas and feedback below and we will explore other aspects of sustainability in future articles.

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