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Voters must flex muscles on housing plans
3:16pm Friday 21st February 2014 in Letters
I agree with Paul Brightly (“No confidence”, February 7), but I think the problem is more fundamental.
The Conservatives' planning minister, Nick Boles, altered the rules when the coalition Government came in, so that there is now an over-riding “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. In addition, every council must demonstrate that its local plan has a five-year housing land supply.
It seems to me that it is a deliberate policy to have planning inspectors delay approval of local plans while other inspectors then overturn our council’s planning decisions at appeal because we don’t yet have a local plan (the South Worcestershire Development Plan) in place.
We are now seeing a planning free for all of ribbon development on greenfield sites, dotted along the base of the Malvern Hills.
It suits the Conservative-led, Westminster government to have this planning vacuum in order to boost housing numbers at the expense of our countryside.
Harriett Baldwin, our Conservative MP, and Cllr David Hughes, the Conservative leader of Malvern Hills District Council, have both spoken and written to Nick Boles, to call for a faster conclusion of the SWDP.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves what is the point of voting for them when they are obviously unable to influence their Conservative colleagues at Westminster?
We should take matters into our own hands. As a first step, please consider signing the online petition, http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49495, requesting Nick Boles to amend the rules, and uphold local democracy.
Next, instead of numerous small residents' action groups being defeated one after the other at planning meetings we should get together to form an umbrella group across southern Worcestershire as a display of voter muscle would work wonders!
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