Planning Applications - As Member of Parliament, I do not play a direct role in the planning process. This is an issue for local councils and you may wish to contact your local councillor regarding planning queries.
I have submitted an objection to the Inspector raising my concerns about this development. I am raising questions about this decision with the Housing Minister and have formally requested that the Minister calls the decision in. I will continue to hold discussions with Tewkesbury Borough Council about possible future steps to be taken.
The government is reviewing its planning guidance and I am engaging with the relevant Ministers to try to help get it right for the future. I am asking questions about the status of Neighbourhood Plans and pushing for a standard methodology for calculating land supply be established.
Some new developments are causing issues with the drainage and infrastructure to existing properties within the constituency so I have also raised with the Prime Minister the issue of ensuring that there is enough drainage capacity in place before developments are started and he is following this up. There is an emphasis on building more houses, but it is important to make sure that they are in the right places and that villages don’t get overwhelmed. In the village that I live in, we face a third planning application, when developers have only just completed building the first two.
The new building safety regime will systematically address historical structural defects to buildings by requiring safety case reviews and reasonable improvements. It is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing these historic safety defects in their buildings that they did not cause. The Government has repeatedly said that building owners should step up and not pass these costs on to leaseholders, where possible.
Where developers or building owners have been unable or unwilling to pay, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have introduced funding schemes providing £1.6 billion to accelerate the pace of work and meet the costs of remediating the highest risk and most expensive defects – Aluminium Composite Material cladding and other unsafe cladding systems like High Pressure Laminates.
On 10th February 2021, the Housing Secretary unveiled a £3.5bil five-point plan, which will provide further reassurance to homeowners and bring confidence to the housing market:
- Government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for leaseholders in all residential buildings 18 metres and over (6 storeys) in England
- Generous finance scheme to provide reassurance for leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18 metres (4 to 6 storeys), ensuring they never pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal
- An industry levy and tax to ensure developers play their part
- A world-class new safety regime to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again
- Providing confidence to this part of the housing market including lenders and surveyors
The Grenfell tragedy laid bare failings in the building industry dating back 30 years. The Housing Secretary’s announcement is a further step by the government to bring about the biggest changes to building safety in a generation, ensuring people are safe and feel safe in their own homes.
Changes to the Planning System
I have discussed this matter at length with constituents, the leaders of Tewkesbury Borough Council and Gloucestershire County Council to find out more about how they feel this will affect them. I have flagged these concerns with the Housing Minister privately and in the House.
I would like to start by saying that I am in full agreement with the Government’s commitment to supporting people to get on the housing ladder and owning their own homes. However, I disagree with the sentiment that simply building more houses is the solution.
It is pointless to come to Gloucestershire and build more three, four or five-bedroom houses. All that does is concrete over green fields, the green belt and, and floodplains still leaving us with unaffordable homes because the wrong kind of houses have been built.
I have asked that the government rethink the idea that having more houses makes them more affordable. In itself, it will not, and we have to think beyond just the housing numbers.
Councils, as I understand it from the White Paper, will be given the opportunity to designate certain land as protected, but I have asked that the government ensure that this protected land take precedence over the housing numbers.
We are already seeing problems with this mentality. I recently visited a housing development in Twigworth where 500 houses are being built on flood risk fields. This is simply not acceptable.
I am concerned that going forward with this algorithm or any other system that insists that my area builds thousands and thousands of houses, will continue to cause housing to be built on flood risk land and on the green belt.
From speaking to various stakeholders it is clear that we are all in agreement that we want more affordable houses, but the government have to ensure that they have redefined what “affordable” means and we have to build them in the right places ensuring that houses are not built on flood risk land simply to meet a housing target.
To find out more about the proposed changed to the planning system and to take part in the consultation please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
Housing Supply and the Green Belt
Last year, I held a debate entitled "Housing, planning and the green belt". In this debate, I raised concerns regarding unsuitable developments, such as those being proposed to be built on green belt or flood plain. I also raised concerns that we are not building the right type of housing which is affordable my constituents. I will continue to raise these issues and you can read the full debate here.