As you will recall, at the recent election I warned about the threat of major development in our villages. During a recent full council meeting I asked the council leader about projections for house building in the borough; it was revealed that villages will be used by the council in order to meet their target for new homes.
Following on from this revelation was the Government’s announcement that it is to consult on allowing the greenbelt to be built upon and house extensions of up to eight metres deep be acceptable without planning consent.
Nearby Wolston is the first village to be targeted by developers. I successfully persuaded the planning committee in February to throw out a plan to build 92 houses on green fields in Wolston. However, now the developers are back with a plan for 80 houses. In building a case against the plans, Wolston Parish Council have asked me for advice and guidance.
Whilst Wolston is not in my ward, I have been happy to help their Parish Council because if they lose their fight to save green fields near them it sets a precedent that could see villages in this ward being under threat.
I am not against all development, but there are a number of brownfield sites in the town that are being ignored, some already have planning permission. The developers know that clean rural sites are cheaper to build on and command higher prices. Nationally there are 400,000 prospective homes that have planning permission but are not being constructed.
I am pushing for our local planning officers to meet their targets by forcing builders to focus on urban sites that really need regeneration. The urban brownfield sites can offer affordable housing to help address the shortfall. It should not be the case that companies automatically seek planning permission for properties that will impact upon our beautiful rural areas—that should be a last resort.