Only developers’ voices heard in planning debate

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Many residents will have had a letter drop through their letter boxes informing them there was to be yet another consultation on the Core Strategy.

I am told developers are making a claim that some of the last changes to the strategy were typed using a typeface which may have caused confusion among those who read them and it was therefore necessary to revisit those proposals and present them in a different format.

The Government’s Planning Inspector in charge of our strategy document has upheld their concerns, hence we have another consultation. Polite people would say this is taking the mickey. Actions such as this strengthen our view that the only people who are listened to in planning matters are developers, nobody else.

If a resident had made such an assertion would that have been taken seriously? Of course it wouldn’t.

Developers are clearly trying to delay the strategy to get their applications submitted before it is too late. They are succeeding.

In the Government reshuffle I was pleased to see Planning Minister Nick Boles had been removed from his post. At one meeting I attended with him he said he quite fancied a move to Education. He said it in the same way you might fancy a choc ice or a 99. It worried me.

The first pronouncements of his successor have equally worried me.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Brandon Lewis, the new Planning Minister, claims there has been a dramatic swing in public opinion concerning housing with over half the population in favour of new housing in their area. He also claims the Government’s planning policy and framework (NPPF) is responsible for this change of view! “Now that people have a bigger say over where new housing goes they are much happier,” he said.

We all know people have no say over where housing goes. He may be thinking of Neighbourhood Plans, but they can only suggest where more housing should go, not less.

They have to agree with the Local Borough’s plan (Core Strategy) which has to be in conformity with the NPPF and the Government’s targets for house building in the borough. We have learned not to believe the claims of politicians and certainly not to believe their statistics.

I don’t think Mr Lewis would find that people in the Ribble Valley had suddenly become happy because of the NPPF, far from it!

Nick Boles has become Junior Equalities Minister. I can’t see him doing very well there as he clearly had no desire to make planning an equal exchange of interests between developers, council and local people.

We need more housing, particularly affordable housing, of that there is no doubt. It’s the scale of the proposals which are not “equal” to the Ribble Valley.

Will the new Minister understand and act on these issues? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Nick Walker.

Chairman of Save Whalley Village Action Group