Proposed Thorndale subdivision latest sign of rapid county growth

·2 min read

A 150-home subdivision is proposed for the small community of Thorndale, offering what Middlesex County officials describe as much-needed housing amid a population boom in communities surrounding London.

The builder, Pemic Thorndale Land Corp., wants to build 102 single-family homes, 12 semi-detached homes and 27 one and two-storey street townhouses at 17177 Thorndale Rd. in Thorndale, whichis part of Thames Centre, a municipality of nearly 14,000 northeast of London.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to have more housing for people that are starting out or downsizing,” said Middlesex Warden Alison Warwick, who is also mayor of Thames Centre. “Any housing units we have are going to help with the housing crisis.”

The proposed subdivision would sprout on 10 hectares (25 acres) of land currently being used for agriculture at the east end of Meadowbrook Lane next to Thorndale’s Monteith subdivision. Another eight hectares (20 acres) south of the proposed residences would be dedicated to the Thames Centre to maintain a creek and natural heritage.

The proposal isn’t the only development being considered for the rapidly growing communities outside London, where transit and jobs are also top of mind.

In Strathroy, municipal staff and politicians have been looking at a proposed subdivision that would see about 455 units, mainly single-detached dwellings, and a proposal to build a 32-unit rental townhouse project, among others.

“There’s a tremendous amount of growth that's occurred right across the county over the last five years,” said Durk Vanderwerff, the county’s chief planner, pointing to the region’s population boom.

Middlesex had a growth rate of nearly 10 per cent over the past five years, a massive shift from the 2011-2016 census when the region grew by 3.7 per cent, the latest census data show.

A pandemic exodus from larger cities is, in part, driving recent growth for London and surrounding areas, with many people seeking housing in smaller communities within commuting range of the city.

But with that growth also comes resistance from the community, Warwick said.

“County-wide we're seeing growth everywhere,” she said. “I know it can be disturbing to residents (who) have had no growth for a long time, but it's a sign of the times, and it's happening all over Southwestern Ontario.”

Such developments will serve to benefit those communities, Warwick added. “If we don't grow, we decay. So, I think we embrace it.”

County staff have received and reviewed input from the community for the proposed Thorndale subdivision and are working through some concerns and planning changes, Vanderwerff said. The proposed density, including the lot size and types of housing, was cited as a prime concern by residents in the neighbouring subdivision, which is comprised only of single-detached dwellings on larger lots.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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