Stroud’s Labour council’s failure to have a local plan in place has been ‘catastrophic in terms of paving the way for a developers’ charter’, says MP

I WAS delighted to be able to attend the launch of the Stroud Town Neighbourhood Plan.
The event took place in Lansdown Hall and as was very well attended; so much so, more seats were needed to accommodate the interested audience.
Stroud is fortunate to have so many capable and willing people to undertake a venture of such magnitude and potential.
Stroud is an obvious place for localism to take root and thrive.
With many ideas in the air, communities so rich in variety and a heritage glistening with modern meaning, empowering local people to make a difference is precisely what localism is all about. Of course, the process is at an early stage, and discussions about boundaries, scope, vision and content will continue, but a huge step forward has already taken place.
A steering group will be formed and further preliminary meetings will take place in August and September so watch out for events and other opportunities to get involved. My own early work to encourage thinking about the canal restoration and the consequential implications for development is part of the debate towards engaging residents in the shaping of the local environment.
One of my passions in politics is to create the capacity and atmosphere for genuine local decision making. In terms of planning, my vision is all about local councils and neighbourhoods taking responsibility for realising local aspirations and preferences. This is what neighbourhood planning is all about.
It is also why I am so disappointed with the performance of the Labour-led Stroud District Council. To fail to have a local plan in place has already been catastrophic in terms of paving the way for a ‘developers’ charter’. As one developer has noted, because there is no local plan, it is worth making speculative applications. This must be stopped.
The Labour-led administration has proffered a number of excuses for not having a plan, including “others haven’t got one” and “it’s too complicated”. Advice to help has been given; I hope the council leaders take this and rise to the challenge of delivering a meaningful and empowering planning framework.