October 2010

Hi everyone. Ron and Alice represented our combined campaigns brilliantly yesterday as witnesses in the Parliamentary Select committee – Communities and Local Government Committee. The topic was the abolition of regional spatial strategies. You can see them on this video link.

Alice Ross and Ron Morton spoke with Mark Steele from Ringwood Town Council, they followed witnesses from RTPI and TCPI. After their fervent discussions, CPRE, the Woodland Trust and The South East Sustainability Forum spoke. Tough questions were asked including

  1. What was wrong with the RSS?, what would we do instead?
  2. How should cooperation work between Local Authorities? Is a tier higher than local needed, How could it be democratically accountable?
  3. How can provision of house building reflect local need? How can planning take account of need? If there was an absolute need, would we accept building on the greenbelt?
  4. What do we think about proposed incentives?

It was clear that all parties agreed that the Regional spatial Strategy had been fundamentally flawed, and planning power should return to local authorities and communities but with an element of control to ensure reasonable numbers of housing is actually built where it is really needed. There was a big focus on how to ensure that we build the required volumes of affordable housing. The issue of incentives for new house building was discussed and our stance remains cautious but in any case we will follow up with our specific point that incentives should be arranged for regeneration of disused properties.

Well done Alice and Ron

It appears that a third party right of appeal will not appear in the forthcoming localism belt. Such a right would give local people a right to be taken seriously when objecting to large scale developments on land on their doorstep. The coalition made this a pre-election pledge, it is looking like they have abandoned it. We need to put pressure on our local MPs.

See comment here in the Telegraph and here in Planning Daily. The CPRE clearly says this was a pre-election pledge, though the Telegraph is a little less sure. Can someone check their manifestos for me please?

Laurence Robertson (MP for Tewkesbury) says he will follow this up.