LETTER: Floodgates well and truly open

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I see that the National Trust warns that ‘half of English councils with greenbelt land, are planning to build on protected countryside, even though other brownfield sites are available’. In view of this and the recent flooding across the countryside, it might be worth reviewing the background.

The floodgates were opened by the 2013 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), giving the un-elected Planning Inspectorate (PI) an excuse to permit speculative development, where house building lacks population growth.

It was clearly unreasonable to hold Local Planning Authorities (LPA) responsible for such backlogs, which occurred because disposable incomes have declined and because developers will not build houses that they can’t sell, at the profit expected.

If this is not addressed, then local authorities will continue to remain behind the (population) curve and there will be yet more speculative development on greenfield sites, along with many prone to flooding. It should be clear by now that Localism (ie local democracy) is dead.

Our MPs only seem to be able to wring their hands over the problem, whilst urging residents to complete Neighbourhood Plans, knowing that even those are liable to be overridden by the un-elected planning inspector.

If they continue to be ineffective, then they must surely bear the consequences in 2015, at the General Election.

P.M. RANDS (Mrs)

Arun Road, Billingshurst