This week my postbag has been full of letters about the proposed development by St William on the old gasworks site in the east of the city.

I want to thank the campaign group AGHAST for their hard work in bringing residents together, collating views and undertaking research into similar schemes. I do not under-estimate how exhausting and stressful it can be to do this, more so during the current pandemic.

Residents have expressed concerns about the size and scale of the buildings, the number of homes that will be affordable to local people and the impact of decontamination of this site.

They are rightly worried about the number of tall buildings which will cast long shadows and reduce light to surrounding homes. It is acknowledged that following representations, some blocks have been reduced from 15 to 13 storeys, but this still seems like an overly dense development.

St William’s website states “the new homes will make a significant contribution to local housing need”. I would be interested to know what figure readers think would constitute “a significant contribution” out of the 600 to 700 planned?

When I asked how much affordable housing would be included at a recent meeting I chaired between the developer and residents, we were told that information was not yet available.

I have made the point repeatedly that building homes in the city doesn’t make any difference to local housing need if local people cannot afford to live in them.

I share the fear of residents, that once again, an area of our city may be over-developed and compromised to line the pockets of overseas investors and property speculators who will leave properties empty for much of the year, creating a monolithic and soulless environment.

Decontamination of the site is also proving to be a huge worry particularly when hearing the experiences of people living near similar developments. These have been reported by the BBC and national press.

A date for this development to come to planning committee is yet to be set so at the last meeting I asked if residents could see the final plans before submission. It is obviously quite difficult to feel properly consulted if you can’t see the detail of what you’re being consulted about. I am disappointed at the response I received which is that local people would be consulted “alongside” the plans going to committee.

Meanwhile, I have ensured that all objections I have received from local people are already in front of the relevant planning officer. I will continue to battle for their voices to be heard and their concerns to be taken seriously.

Also in my postbag were a couple of emails from people upset at receiving fines for leaving items out on the pavement or next to communal bins in their street. Many people do this to see if someone else can use unwanted items, often in good condition, but it does count as flytipping and you can get fined up to £400.

If you have unwanted stuff, try It is a community-led site where people who are both environmentally conscious and understanding of others in need of help, prefer to go.

You can give away usable furniture and other items to someone who needs them rather than sell them or add to landfill. You will also save money on a council collection or the cost of petrol in going to the tip and not risk a £400 fine.

It is a great site if you are looking for things too – from books and bicycles to paint and flooring or how about this week’s offer of a six-person inflatable boat – you heard it here first.

Even if things are not in the best condition or you can’t imagine what purpose they may serve, others are out there upcycling, repairing and looking for leftover materials, paint and wood for crafting and other projects.

My old bits of timber were collected by a young woman who makes furniture out of recycled wood, my leftover paint went to a pensioner artist to create new pictures, a bride-to-be snapped up some glass ramekins for her wedding (giving me the perfect excuse to buy more GU cheesecakes) and someone bid for a slate tile to turn into a cheeseboard.

The site is still open for use during lockdown, but please follow the safety guidelines, stick to your local area and sanitise items before giving them away or after collection.

On that note, my most welcome communication this week was a text from the NHS saying that I could now get the vaccine. I would urge everyone to please book your vaccine as soon as you are told you can. Be prepared to feel emotional – I did – because suddenly a way out of the pandemic becomes more real.