by Dean Crofts on 18 January, 2020
As councillors, we approved Bedford Borough Councils (BBC) Local Plan on Wednesday. This plan allows residents via the council to have some control of what development, particularly houses, goes where and when.
More importantly, it means developers cannot come into Bedford Borough and build houses where they want (Something developers have been trying since Feb 2019 when Central Government increased the housing building numbers and applied those increases to Bedford Borough even though a local plan was being considered by a Central Planning Inspectorate). Developers now have to follow our local plan.
Planning should be local with monitoring from a regional growth board or central government to make sure that all areas are meeting the needs of residents who cannot afford a home and who need more affordable homes to avoid homelessness. Local residents who have an interest in getting involved, do want to solve local problems like homelessness and their local plans would do this.
More importantly, local residents should be able to agree with their locally elected councillors what their Local Plan is going to look like and what it is going to produce. This part is available at the moment. The problem is interference from Central Government. Even when a local council has agreed a local plan, as BBC did in December 2018, the government still did not accept it until a planning inspector had looked at it. WRONG! It should have been accepted, developers should not have been allowed to come into the area and make speculative housing development applications during this period. Instead BBC and residents were left in limbo for another 12 months while Central Government interfered, changed the rules by increasing the housing numbers required, and gave priority to the planning inspectorate and developers even though locally elected councillors with excellent council officers had approved a plan in 2018.
The system must change, it needs to be bottom up not top down, it should start with Parish Neighbourhood plans and then communities should be allowed to come together, consult and make a local plan that is required to solve local problems in their areas and give growth to their areas for everyone’s benefit.
Centralised, top down planning and government does not work!
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