DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OF PLANNING
UNDER THREAT SAYS CPRE
Democratically-controlled town and country planning in Warwickshire and the West Midlands is under a grave threat if action is not taken, says CPRE Warwickshire, “Unelected, opaque, single-agenda Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will increasingly rule the roost not just on economic development but also on planning, housing and transport, promoting the interests of themselves and their members in the process. Local democracy will have been largely lost.”
CPRE Warwickshire has today published a detailed report on how these new unelected bodies are quietly taking over town and country planning, with the councillors on local authorities apparently unable to stop a dangerous trend. It is based on detailed research into the mode of operating, and conduct, of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and its neighbour the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP.
“This report, which has been prepared by our members in Warwickshire, makes depressing reading”, said Mark Sullivan, Technical Secretary of the CPRE in the county. “If the trend continues our councillors will find that they have little power to influence planning policy, or the scale of development. Their voters will find that decisions are made behind closed doors and imposed on everyone. This has to stop.
“The LEPs and some local authority planners are increasingly disregarding those parts of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework that aim to temper growth by, for example, preserving the Green Belt or protecting and enhancing the environment generally. The Government’s recent attempts to strengthen Green Belt policy are effectively being ignored.
“Our report recommends that LEPs should focus more specifically on economic development, acting as no more than consultees on related topics such as housing, planning and transport. They should also seek to develop a more open and transparent approach, including agreeing to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations as local authorities already are. Local authorities should take steps to involve all their councillors in key decisions.
“Local authorities can stop this drift away from democracy by declining to give more of a role to the LEP, and recovering powers to use them themselves.”
Members of Parliament for Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull constituencies are being sent the report, which is attached.
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Version02, 1st May 2018
Daw Mill Colliery Site. Following the closure of the coal-mine some years ago the proposal was to use the site for commercial purposes despite a clear statement that it should be returned to agricultural use when the mining ceased. We are delighted that the planning inspector at the appeal has rejected the planning application and largely upheld the requirement to return the land to how it was before the colliery was built. We thank all those involved in this significant achievement.
Our representatives state that
“in upholding the Borough Council’s decision, the Inspector indicated that the possibility of the site returning to a green field, in accordance with the Restoration Plan, needs to be taken into account not only as a material consideration but as the baseline comparative scenario”
Solihull Local Plan Review. The timetable has been put back and the programme now has the following stages -
Publication of Submission Draft for consultation – Summer /
Submission to Secretary of State – Winter 2018/19
Examination of Plan – Spring 2019
Adoption of the Local Plan Review – Summer 2019
More housing is needed because the number of households in the Borough is increasing. Population is projected to increase by around 22,900 (2014-2033) with more people staying single longer; more couples and families are separating and people are living longer and continuing to live in their own home, often alone. In addition, Solihull MBC is to take 4,000 dwellings from the Birmingham overspill. It is expected that by 2033 around 31% of all households will be single people including those over pensionable age, people with disabilities and households re-forming. The number of households represented by the over 75s is projected to increase by 7,000 between 2014 and 2033 to comprise 22% of all the Borough’s households.
The 67% of the Borough is currently Green Belt. Although there has been a public consultation on brownfield sites, which CPRE has commented upon, with some brownfield sites in the Green Belt being proposed for future development, there will still be a need to release vast areas of Green Belt to accommodate this future housing need, some of which is of a high value.
The Meriden Green Belt is under particular pressure with the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover, the Arden Cross site, UK Central Hub proposals, which now include up to 4,000 new homes plus Highway England’s proposed new junction 6 to the M42 which if approved will take up a large swathe of this valuable Green Belt. There could also be a proposed motorway service station at Catherine de Barnes.
More detail may be seen at this link - http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LPR/UK_Central_Hub_Growth_Infrastructure_Plan.pdf
Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Plan Status.
The Stage 2 Hearings took place from 20th February until 23rd March.
Applications around Nuneaton and Bedworth
Top Farm, Higham Lane. Application from WCC/Ian Wilson for approximately 1700 homes. (Application 035279)
Plough Hill, Galley Common. Application for 276 homes by Taylor Wimpey Homes. (Application 035283)
Callendar Farm. Application from R J Jones, Richborough Estates, for additional 200 homes adjacent to the 880 previously approved (Application 035338)
St Marys Road. Application by NBBC for 95 affordable dwellings on land resulting from the move of the Depot. (Application 035402)
Poplars Farm. The Application by Gladman has been delayed until the March Planning Committee, following much Public protest. (Application 035033)
Longshoot. The Application for the NWHC college to sell off the playing fields and car parks for development of 220 homes is a get-rich quick policy which will complete the wrecking of the college. The above plans mean that the number of homes in five cul-de-sacs from the Longshoot is now over 2000 homes behind about 280 others. We found people in the new area who have jobs in Castle Bromwich and Birmingham as well as many locations in South Warwickshire.
Detailed applications for housing on sites to the south of Leamington and Warwick, where outline permission has been granted, continue apace. Building work continues and quite shocking removals of hedgerows and maturing trees have taken place to facilitate building and widening of roads. This is no longer the concern of CPRE because there is no way that these districts can continue to be called “rural”.
Baginton Airport and Environs
The new application has been submitted for commercial development. The claim now is that it will provide 5,500 jobs in contrast to 10,000 when the earlier rejected plan was submitted. It appears that a very similar blot on the landscape will now provide 45% fewer jobs. The site is, of course, now designated in the Local Plan. Perhaps the promised green spaces will provide sufficient compensation.