A silent rebuke for Claire Perry on government’s draft planning proposals
A bid by Marlborough MP Claire Perry to change the mind of Marlborough Town Council on its opposition to the government’s new draft planning policy, which has outraged the National Trust, has met with a silent rebuke.
The council wrote to government minister Grant Shapps opposing the planning framework, which it is feared will give developers carte blanche to build extensively on open country sites in rural areas.
And in a reply to that, Tory MP Mrs Perry sent a detailed two-page letter declaring that the policy was “incredibly important” and “vital that we get it right”.
She pointed out: “I love our green county of Wiltshire and I completely agree that if the result of the changes was to create ‘rubbish homes in densely populated estates’, as some constituents have suggested, then that would be a very bad outcome.”
“This is not what the government is proposing. Instead these changes have two key aims – to simplify the voluminous and complex national planning policy now to over 1,000 pages, and to enable a far greater degree of local control over development.”
And Mrs Perry added: “I don’t agree with the view that these reforms will undermine important protection of the countryside, or that it will lead to ‘Los Angeles urban sprawl’ as the National Trust, of which I am a member, suggested rather irresponsibly in my view.”
“The new guidelines safeguard national protections such as green belts, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest, and include measures to protect wildlife, biodiversity, cultural heritage and tackle light pollution.”
But the town council’s Planning Committee decided last night (Monday) to let the letter lie on the table unanswered.
Councillor Nick Fogg (pictured), angered that massive local opinion has been overruled by a government planning inspector in allowing Marlborough’s Ivy House Hotel to become a hostel for Marlborough College students, remains unconvinced about the new planning strategy.
“It's a politician's illusion that house-building creates economic growth,” he told Marlborough News Online. “It reflects it. It doesn't create it. That's done by increased trade.”
“I know a lot of informed people are extremely worried about changes in the planning laws. Our countryside should continue to be protected. It's our heritage to pass on to the next generation.”
Councillor Richard Pitts, one of the pioneers behind the “transitional town” project for Marlborough, aimed at limiting energy costs, had reservations too.
"Its very clear to me we need to develop a community/neighbourhood plan, which is crafted to take account of the needs and wishes of Marlborough town,” he said.
“I believe under the Localism bill this would allow us to set the agenda to suit the community here. Given our aim for a sustainable community our own neighbourhood plan should empower us to keep Wiltshire Council and developers dancing to our tune rather than the other way round.”
And he added: “Given how Wiltshire responded to the overwhelming community demands to retain Ivy House hotel as a Hotel, based on the economic data. I suspect we are facing ‘you are allowed your own neighbourhood plan provided it agrees with our version of plan’.”
“I hope we can call on Claire Perry to defend our plan should this happen."