ALCESTER MP Nadhim Zahawi has spoken out about his concerns over the need for planning reform in the district.
On his website, Mr Zahawi published a speech he had intended to give at a Westminster Hall debate on the subject, in which he voiced concerns over what he called a ‘planning free for all’ in the Stratford district, leading it to come under attack from ‘rapacious developers’.
He said: “The planning authority of Stratford-on-Avon is one of many across the country that is yet to submit and adopt a local plan. It is also one of many planning authorities that is working hard to identify a five year land supply plus a five to 20 per cent buffer as required by paragraph 47 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
“As a result the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development kicks in, and rather than going through the plan led approach, speculative developers are instead identifying farmland, large gardens, arable farmland and greenfield sites in order to shortcut the planning process and pick-up land at much cheaper prices than those identified in the plan.
“If such applications are refused by the district council as not in keeping with the in development local plan then they are extremely likely to be approved by the faceless planning inspectorate.
“In my own constituency this is leading to bizarre levels of proposed development, including one village which has an identified need for 75 houses over 15 years but that currently has 8 applications in for over 200 homes to be built over 5 years. I do not doubt that there is housing need in our country, but the plan led approach, rather than the planning free for all that Stratford is currently experiencing is the right way to deliver them.”
The statement follows a lengthy planning process in Alcester over the development of land to the north and south of Allimore Lane, which was initially refused by the district council planning committee, but then appealed through the planning inspectorate.
Mr Zahawi suggested that current legislation should be added to in order to take into account the cumulative effects of development as well as extending the deadline for local planning authorities to get their new local plans in accordance with the NPPF and to identify a five year land supply.
He also asked for more weight to be given to encouraging the use of brownfield sites.
He added: “No one in my constituency believes that we can preserve ourselves in aspic forever. However, change needs to be supported by the community, and in the current situation that simply isn’t happening.”