LETTER: The deception of ‘Localism’

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Mr Laflin asked some pertinent questions in his letter of January 9 and he might be interested that Horsham MP Francis Maude has previously expressed fears that ‘if planning decisions are taken away from local people, it is likely to breed distrust in the planning system and to leave the countryside without protection’.

Those fears would have been heightened after the Planning Inspectorate (PI) was given an excuse (through the 2013 NPPF) to permit speculative development, where there is a backlog of house building against population growth, even though Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) can’t make developers build houses.

I pointed out the inequity and dangers of that, in an open letter to Mr Maude in April, but have yet to receive a direct response.

On the other hand Planning Minister, Nick Boles, responded that Local Plans should take ‘full account of market and economic signals’, implying that LPAs should not be over-ridden in that way.

So I have suggested to him that LPAs should only be held accountable for identifying suitable land to match population projections, but not for the slow rate of house building, which has been caused by economic factors.

If I receive a positive response from the Planning Minister, then I will of course convey it to readers and fellow councillors, but I am not optimistic.

In the meantime house building remains behind the population curve, allowing the PI (unreasonably) to permit yet more speculative development on green field and flood-prone sites.

The government may be hoping to forget their promise in 2011 that (under Localism), ‘Government is abolishing Labour’s Regional Strategies and putting elected local councillors back in charge, accountable to local people, via the ballot box’.

Instead, they have empowered the unelected PI to permit speculative development, against the judgement of LPAs and it is MPs and Ministers who should be judged, at the ballot box in 2015.

For the moment ‘Localism’ is a figment of the imagination in this context and readers may want to express their concerns at the deception, directly to their MPs.


(UKIP) Horsham district councillor for Chanctonbury ward and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Horsham, North Street, Horsham