Government planning laws damaging countryside, say district councillors

CONTROVERSIAL planning reforms which have left some of the most picturesque sites in the Five Valleys vulnerable to development have been condemned by Stroud District Council.

The authority believes the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which came into force last year, is ‘inherently unsound’ and leading to the ‘irreversible loss of open countryside’.

SDC also says the NPPF, dubbed the developer’s charter by critics, is causing ‘irreparable damage’ to landscape and heritage assets cherished by local communities.

The Coaltion Government’s decision to overhaul the planning laws was taken in a bid to kick-start house-building and stimulate economic growth.

But the reforms have been blamed for opening up huge swathes of rural Britain to development and have attracted considerable opposition from campaigners up and down the country who are fighting to preserve Greenfield sites.

In the Five Valleys, a number of sensitive locations, such as Rodborough Fields, Mankley Field in Leonard Stanley and Baxter’s Field in the Slad Valley, have been put at risk of development as a result of the NPPF’s introduction.

At a meeting of SDC on Thursday, November 28, councillors agreed to write to the secretary of state for communities Eric Pickles to express their views after endorsing a strongly-worded motion tabled jointly by Labour and the Green Party.

The motion, which was supported by Lid Dem members and an overwhelming majority of disgruntled Conservative councillors, called for the Government to amend planning legislation ‘before the damage had gone too far’.

Labour Cllr Steve Lydon (The Stanleys), who put forward the motion, said the NPPF had made it incredibly difficult for SDC to resist planning applications from predatory developers who were only interested in making a profit, rather than meeting local housing need.

His party colleague David Drew (Stonehouse) blasted the reforms as a ‘root and branch destruction’ of existing planning legislation and said they had undermined local-decision making.

Speaking at the meeting, a visibly incandescent and animated John Marjoram (Green, Trinity) unleashed a verbal tirade against the new planning regime, saying it placed too much emphasis on ‘economic considerations’ at the expense of the environment and local communities.

And Cllr Nigel Studdert Kennedy (Con, The Stanleys) said it had allowed developers to engage in ‘asset-stripping of the countryside’.

But Conservative Cllr Debbie Young (Chalford), who abstained in the vote, said the Stroud District was under siege from developers because SDC did not have a Local Plan in place and could not demonstrate a 5-year land supply for housing.

She added that the authority would be in a far stronger position to reject unwelcome planning applications once its Local Plan had been approved and she praised the NPPF for giving communities the power to shape their own development through the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans.

Comments (9)

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10:14am Thu 5 Dec 13

jaytee8937 says...

The NPPF has been in place for over 20 months so why are SDC now complaining about it? Have our elected representatives been living under a rock? It is not the reason for these speculative developments on sensitive sites it is because the same Councillors have not put in place a Local plan that complies with guidelines they have been fully aware of. To claim it is the fault of this legislation is deflecting fault away from the real culprits - those verbose individuals voted in by apathetic voters. For years SDC have been dumping their allocations on the Glos city boundary (2500) in the last 10 years and have made most parts of the district unaffordable for first time buyers and presiding over the slow insidious demise of Stroud. How short are their memories about greenfield sites - the last large allocation for SDC was on farmland in Hardwicke!!!! The same site they want to put another 500 this time round and 300 at Sharpness and 500 on fields in Cam. True politicians - hypocritical with selective memories looking after their own interests, then you report and print this rubbish and give it a level of authenticity it does not deserve.
The NPPF has been in place for over 20 months so why are SDC now complaining about it? Have our elected representatives been living under a rock? It is not the reason for these speculative developments on sensitive sites it is because the same Councillors have not put in place a Local plan that complies with guidelines they have been fully aware of. To claim it is the fault of this legislation is deflecting fault away from the real culprits - those verbose individuals voted in by apathetic voters. For years SDC have been dumping their allocations on the Glos city boundary (2500) in the last 10 years and have made most parts of the district unaffordable for first time buyers and presiding over the slow insidious demise of Stroud. How short are their memories about greenfield sites - the last large allocation for SDC was on farmland in Hardwicke!!!! The same site they want to put another 500 this time round and 300 at Sharpness and 500 on fields in Cam. True politicians - hypocritical with selective memories looking after their own interests, then you report and print this rubbish and give it a level of authenticity it does not deserve. jaytee8937

2:23pm Thu 5 Dec 13

dimreepr says...

An excellent, well written, post that eloquently describes the fundamental issues; it is the perfect example of short term protectionist thinking with, more than a hint of xenophobia.
An excellent, well written, post that eloquently describes the fundamental issues; it is the perfect example of short term protectionist thinking with, more than a hint of xenophobia. dimreepr

12:33pm Mon 9 Dec 13

A Stroud Worm says...

"Don't build in the empty nice field near my house" say people who live in what used to be nice empty fields.

Whinging NIMBY's.
"Don't build in the empty nice field near my house" say people who live in what used to be nice empty fields. Whinging NIMBY's. A Stroud Worm

3:52pm Tue 17 Dec 13

susdew46 says...

The NPPF and the LDF before it are equally and inherently unfair giving precedence to developers who also by the way, have a right of appeal. The whole housing hysteria is based around economic growth at any cost, and not need.

Just because some people live in what would once have been a greenfield site, this is no excuse not to put the brakes on - just do the maths that land size is finite and at the rate this free for all is progressing there will be none left in a few years.
The NPPF and the LDF before it are equally and inherently unfair giving precedence to developers who also by the way, have a right of appeal. The whole housing hysteria is based around economic growth at any cost, and not need. Just because some people live in what would once have been a greenfield site, this is no excuse not to put the brakes on - just do the maths that land size is finite and at the rate this free for all is progressing there will be none left in a few years. susdew46

4:02pm Tue 17 Dec 13

susdew46 says...

Just because houses have been built on greenfield land in the past is no justifiable reason why the practice should continue - there was a lot more land decades ago and arguably we had a fairly stable population so demand was staggered - not so now.
At the rate the hysteria around housebuilding continues there will be no land left to build on. It is right that there should be more affordable housing but this is not happening - it is a developers charter where communities have to put up with bad design and are forced to lose their sense of place by imposed developments. Localism is a joke and people are lucky if they get to choose the colour of the curtains.

As for apathy - many politicians are not up front about their proposals such as changing the planning laws until they are well embedded and voted in.
It is not the fault of the people in this country that respective governments are obsessed by Economic Growth at all costs, that the projected housing figures are based on economics and not purely need.
It would be far easier all round to simply change the financial modelling - not try to build our way out of a perceived population crisis and housing shortage.
The NPPF favours development and seemingly without limits which is hardly sustainable - it makes one wonder who is actually running the country - developers or a government.
Just because houses have been built on greenfield land in the past is no justifiable reason why the practice should continue - there was a lot more land decades ago and arguably we had a fairly stable population so demand was staggered - not so now. At the rate the hysteria around housebuilding continues there will be no land left to build on. It is right that there should be more affordable housing but this is not happening - it is a developers charter where communities have to put up with bad design and are forced to lose their sense of place by imposed developments. Localism is a joke and people are lucky if they get to choose the colour of the curtains. As for apathy - many politicians are not up front about their proposals such as changing the planning laws until they are well embedded and voted in. It is not the fault of the people in this country that respective governments are obsessed by Economic Growth at all costs, that the projected housing figures are based on economics and not purely need. It would be far easier all round to simply change the financial modelling - not try to build our way out of a perceived population crisis and housing shortage. The NPPF favours development and seemingly without limits which is hardly sustainable - it makes one wonder who is actually running the country - developers or a government. susdew46

4:16pm Tue 17 Dec 13

dimreepr says...

“The whole housing hysteria is based around economic growth at any cost, and not need.”
WRONG!!! If there is, in fact, housing for everyone? why are there so many un-housed and why the spiralling increase in house value?
Just doing the math reinforces my argument, for instance, less than 6% of this country is built on; compare that to France who has built on more than 8% of theirs.
“The whole housing hysteria is based around economic growth at any cost, and not need.” WRONG!!! If there is, in fact, housing for everyone? why are there so many un-housed and why the spiralling increase in house value? Just doing the math reinforces my argument, for instance, less than 6% of this country is built on; compare that to France who has built on more than 8% of theirs. dimreepr

9:38pm Tue 17 Dec 13

jaytee8937 says...

susdew46 wrote:
Just because houses have been built on greenfield land in the past is no justifiable reason why the practice should continue - there was a lot more land decades ago and arguably we had a fairly stable population so demand was staggered - not so now.
At the rate the hysteria around housebuilding continues there will be no land left to build on. It is right that there should be more affordable housing but this is not happening - it is a developers charter where communities have to put up with bad design and are forced to lose their sense of place by imposed developments. Localism is a joke and people are lucky if they get to choose the colour of the curtains.

As for apathy - many politicians are not up front about their proposals such as changing the planning laws until they are well embedded and voted in.
It is not the fault of the people in this country that respective governments are obsessed by Economic Growth at all costs, that the projected housing figures are based on economics and not purely need.
It would be far easier all round to simply change the financial modelling - not try to build our way out of a perceived population crisis and housing shortage.
The NPPF favours development and seemingly without limits which is hardly sustainable - it makes one wonder who is actually running the country - developers or a government.
susdew46 you are a prime example of the problems. Affordable housing is catered for in the NPPF as a % of any development. However the small developments do not carry such an impost e.g. the old station yard in stonehouse. To get affordable you need development.. The hysteria is all yours. There has,and always will be development of Greenfield along with Brownfield. For Brownfield to exist then industry has moved or shut down. If they have moved, where to? Greenfield sites on the edge of conurbations near good transport!! If they have closed then their contaminated site is available for housing generally increasing the cost to build and consequently the sale price, or due to the build cost then high rise high density.Developments without limits is a fatuous argument as demand and supply will take care of that. SDC have presided over a prime example at Hunts Grove. The build rate is a snails pace due to oversupply in the Quedgley area - a fact well known to them at the time when they allocated 1500 houses last time round. The last decade or more has been a sorry story of Nimbyism, inaction, head in the sand behaviour by local politicians.
[quote][p][bold]susdew46[/bold] wrote: Just because houses have been built on greenfield land in the past is no justifiable reason why the practice should continue - there was a lot more land decades ago and arguably we had a fairly stable population so demand was staggered - not so now. At the rate the hysteria around housebuilding continues there will be no land left to build on. It is right that there should be more affordable housing but this is not happening - it is a developers charter where communities have to put up with bad design and are forced to lose their sense of place by imposed developments. Localism is a joke and people are lucky if they get to choose the colour of the curtains. As for apathy - many politicians are not up front about their proposals such as changing the planning laws until they are well embedded and voted in. It is not the fault of the people in this country that respective governments are obsessed by Economic Growth at all costs, that the projected housing figures are based on economics and not purely need. It would be far easier all round to simply change the financial modelling - not try to build our way out of a perceived population crisis and housing shortage. The NPPF favours development and seemingly without limits which is hardly sustainable - it makes one wonder who is actually running the country - developers or a government.[/p][/quote]susdew46 you are a prime example of the problems. Affordable housing is catered for in the NPPF as a % of any development. However the small developments do not carry such an impost e.g. the old station yard in stonehouse. To get affordable you need development.. The hysteria is all yours. There has,and always will be development of Greenfield along with Brownfield. For Brownfield to exist then industry has moved or shut down. If they have moved, where to? Greenfield sites on the edge of conurbations near good transport!! If they have closed then their contaminated site is available for housing generally increasing the cost to build and consequently the sale price, or due to the build cost then high rise high density.Developments without limits is a fatuous argument as demand and supply will take care of that. SDC have presided over a prime example at Hunts Grove. The build rate is a snails pace due to oversupply in the Quedgley area - a fact well known to them at the time when they allocated 1500 houses last time round. The last decade or more has been a sorry story of Nimbyism, inaction, head in the sand behaviour by local politicians. jaytee8937

12:31pm Sun 29 Dec 13

Grains says...

"Stop building on green fields"...said the person living in a house built on a green field....!!!! The current plan will lead to developers building where they want on greenfield sites because the plan dies not conform to the NPPF. Putting all of the houses in the one spot, with a large portion dedicated to affordable housing makes sense for not just future housing affordability (which stimulates the local town being Stonehouse and Stroud) but also for sustainability as there is one place which can cater to the local areas housing needs for the next 15 years. Pull your head out SDC and stop this developer lead building and a farcical plan based on false data.
"Stop building on green fields"...said the person living in a house built on a green field....!!!! The current plan will lead to developers building where they want on greenfield sites because the plan dies not conform to the NPPF. Putting all of the houses in the one spot, with a large portion dedicated to affordable housing makes sense for not just future housing affordability (which stimulates the local town being Stonehouse and Stroud) but also for sustainability as there is one place which can cater to the local areas housing needs for the next 15 years. Pull your head out SDC and stop this developer lead building and a farcical plan based on false data. Grains

12:04am Mon 30 Dec 13

jaytee8937 says...

Well said Grains. The protests now are led by a handful of Nimbys with no thought given to the larger picture. What SDC have produced in the Local plan is a recipe for smaller Greenfield sites to be won on appeal thus delivering development that was never wanted in places that were never considered. They then blame developers!!!!!!!! They are just doing their job.This is only delaying the inevitable and puts them in a position of weakness in the planning process. Why cant they grab the nettle and solve problems once and for all without listening to a minority and being gutless about decision making. The benefits for the whole community are never considered, just vested interests and a blinkered view that takes Stroud further down the road towards Ghost town. If not now then watch out in 10 years time it could be development at Coaley, utilising the rail network, the lure of Bristol and proximity to the Motorway. That will help Stroud to rejuvinate!!!!!!!!! Beware Deniss and Brian the sitting members.
Well said Grains. The protests now are led by a handful of Nimbys with no thought given to the larger picture. What SDC have produced in the Local plan is a recipe for smaller Greenfield sites to be won on appeal thus delivering development that was never wanted in places that were never considered. They then blame developers!!!!!!!! They are just doing their job.This is only delaying the inevitable and puts them in a position of weakness in the planning process. Why cant they grab the nettle and solve problems once and for all without listening to a minority and being gutless about decision making. The benefits for the whole community are never considered, just vested interests and a blinkered view that takes Stroud further down the road towards Ghost town. If not now then watch out in 10 years time it could be development at Coaley, utilising the rail network, the lure of Bristol and proximity to the Motorway. That will help Stroud to rejuvinate!!!!!!!!! Beware Deniss and Brian the sitting members. jaytee8937

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