PLANNING minister Nick Boles has been asked to apologise to Stroud MP Neil Carmichael for ‘costing him his seat’ in next year’s general election.
Mr Boles, who is parliamentary under secretary of state for planning, met with councillors and members of the public at Leonard Stanley Village Hall today, Wednesday, to discuss the National Planning Policy Framework and its implications in the Stroud district.
Horsley resident Jolyon Neely finished the hour long question and answer session by asking Mr Boles if he was going to apologise to Stroud MP Neil Carmicahel.
“Are you going to apologise to Mr Carmicahel and other Conservative MPs across the country that hold marginal seats,” asked Mr Neely.
“I have voted Conservative my whole life but I will not be doing so next year.
Mr Neely accused the planning minister of costing the Conservative Party the chance for re-election because ‘of the policy you have put in place.’ After the meeting Mr Carmichael said the fault of the current planning problems in the Stroud district lay at the hands of Stroud Labour Party.
“As a result of not getting a local plan in place the party has left the Stroud district vulnerable to predatory developers.”
During the meeting residents asked Mr Boles questions about the Stroud Local Plan, five-year land supply and how best to stop developers from trying to build on green spaces.
He told the 50 members of the public who attended the meeting that current national planning policy had two priorities – to protect AONB’s and to build enough houses so that the younger generation have the same opportunities to by their own homes.
“The whole point of the Government’s planning policy is for every area to draw up a local plan to ensure that the needs of the local area are met,” said Mr Boles.
“When communities are left without a local plan that is when the problems arise as there is nothing in place to protect them from unwanted developments.”
Recently residents from Leonard Stanley and King’s Stanley successfully fought off an application for 150 homes in a green field between their villages, however developers Gladman have now lodged an appeal.
The worry now is that without an adopted local plan a planning inspectorate will overturn SDC’s decision.
Stroud District Council’s local plan is currently being reviewed by a planning inspector and the decision is due to be with the council by the end of May.
A number of residents at the meeting asked Mr Boles if a ‘pause button’ could be implemented to allow local communities, who are waiting for their local plan to be adopted, to protect themselves from various developers.
“Unfortunately I worry that if we allowed that every local authority in the country would start the local plan process just to press the pause button,” said Mr Boles.
“While I see the attraction of that to local communities I worry that we would end up with no progress in housing.”
District councillor Nigel Studdart-Kennedy (Con, the Stanleys) expressed his frustration with developers who don’t build on the sites where they have been granted planning permission.
Mr Boles explained that any applications that have already received planning permission can be counted towards a local authorities housing supply – unless a developer can prove the site is no longer viable.
“If anyone can come up with an idea of how to force a private business to put money into building houses on a site they are unsure they will make any profit from, I am very open for suggestions,” added Mr Boles.
The planning minister acknowledged that there was a lot of anger as a result of the planning policy across the county but said ‘often the reforms that cause a huge amount of upset when first introduced can ultimately lead to good things’.