Some politicians seem to be ‘men on a mission’ and, yes. its mostly men. In a hurry to achieve an objective so they are voted in again in the next local or national electoral cycle and brook no opposition or delay.
Take the Chancellor. Apparently frustrated with local authorities who appear to be failing to deliver new Local Plans under the mired-in-the-courts National Planning Policy Framework [NPPF] containing house building plans that roll back the Green Belt. Perhaps in his eyes they are failing to contribute to his need as manager of the economy to pump up GDP and reduce unemployment through the well-known multiplier effect of the building sector. Whatever it is, in a written statement to Parliament on 21 July 2015 the Government provided more information saying that “in cases where no local plan has been produced by early 2017—five years after the publication of the NPPF—we will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production of a local plan.”
A ‘lottery’ winner in Normandy? Never. Wouldn’t believe it.
However, if you are lucky enough to own a piece of a green field around here nowadays, you might come up for a multi-million jackpot.
Thanks to the local council’s current draft Local Plan earmarking 72.4 hectares of perfectly good Grade 3A agricultural land between our two settlements that fulfills three of the most important aspects of the Green Belt as ‘safeguarded land’, that is, safeguarded for development over the next 18 years for up to 2,700 new homes, local land owners, house builders and developers are meeting in a perfect storm of speculation and outline planning applications.
Presumably this is what the change in planning regulation heralded by the introduction of the NPPF was intended to create. Large-scale loss of productive agricultural land in a world faced with climate change to low-density urban sprawl is damaging to our food security but the increasingly authoritarian leaders of this government and our local council appear in thrall to their own economic and political dogma.
The new planning and infrastructure Tsar appointed by the Chancellor wants 40 affluent southern towns including Guildford to double in size. Guildford doesn’t hit the national headlines very often, so why Guildford?
These things don’t happen overnight. It must have taken a while for George Osborne to negotiate the deal with Lord Adonis as the planning Tsar. The appointment must have been contemplated before Adonis made his own speech in the House of Lords, which was on 16 September and, of course, it was announced at the Tory conference on a key date for the Chancellor’s speech.
If you wanted to square the shires and tell them that they’d got a good deal with, for example, 693 homes per annum as we are in Guildford according to the final West Surrey SHMA, and lose no Tory votes either nationally or locally, how would you do it?