Visit to Bohunt School

Yesterday I visited Bohunt to discuss the details for the new sixth form. I was pleased to hear from the Head that they are advancing plans to have a new building constructed and open by autumn 2023.

I visited a couple of classes to talk to the pupils. Many were out on visits or enjoying sports as the end of term draws near.

Visit to Biointeractions in Shinfield

I visited Biointeractions at their request. It is a successful company making products to control infection for surgical implants and in other medical uses. The showed me their laboratories, with research, production of their coatings and testing all in the same building at Collegiate Square.

They have grown the business over the years and now have 20 staff. They are developing new products which they think will help infection control in hospitals. It is good news that local talent is working away on one of the crucial issues for the NHS as well as overseas medical services. There is always room to improve infection control to reduce the numbers of people who develop a condition after surgery and treatment.

John Redwood urges government to accept new clauses to Planning Bill

 NC17

 

 

To move the following Clause‚ÄĒ

 

“Community right of appeal

 

  • The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is amended as follows.
  • After section 78 (right to appeal against planning decisions and failure to take such decisions) insert‚ÄĒ

 

“78ZA Community right of appeal

 

  • The Secretary of State must by regulations make provision‚ÄĒ
  • enabling communities to appeal against a decision to grant planning permission or permission in principle for a development, and
  • about such appeals.
  • The regulations may require a certain number or proportion of residents of a local area to record objection against a decision for such an appeal to proceed.
  • The regulations may, in particular, make provision the upholding of such appeals and the revocation of permission if‚ÄĒ
  • the development is inconsistent with a relevant neighbourhood plan, or
  • due process has not been followed in relation to the planning application.
  • The first regulations under this section must be laid before Parliament before the end of the period of six months beginning on the day on which this section comes into force.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĚ

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause would introduce a community right of appeal against the granting of planning permission

 

 

 Amendment 57

 

Clause 83, page 91, line 30, leave out ‚Äúnational development management policy‚ÄĚ and insert ‚Äúthe development plan‚ÄĚ

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment would require any conflict between a local development plan and a national development management strategy to be resolved in favour of the local development plan.

 

NC15

 

 

To move the following Clause‚ÄĒ

 “Requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework

 

  • The Secretary of State must ensure that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is in accordance with subsections (2) to (6).
  • The NPPF must not contain a presumption in favour of sustainable development including where there are no relevant development plan policies, or such policies are out-of-date.
  • The NPPF must provide for the right for persons to object to individual planning applications.
  • The NPPF must provide that the Planning Inspectorate may only recommend that local plans not be adopted if‚ÄĒ
  1. the consequences of that local plan would be detrimental to the objectives of such plans, and
  2. that local plan is markedly and verifiably atypical in comparison to other such plans.
  • The NPPF must permit local planning authorities to impose bans on greenfield development in their areas, other than in exceptional circumstances, where‚ÄĒ
  1. greenfield areas make a marked contribution to the local economy through leisure or tourism, and
  2. where sufficient brownfield land is likely to be available to meet housing needs identified in neighbourhood and local plans.
  • The NPPF must include specific measures designed to support the creation of additional retirement homes, sheltered accommodation for the elderly and facilities for care homes.
  • This section comes into force at the end of the period of six months beginning on the day on which this Act is passed.‚ÄĚ

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause requires a revised NPPF within six months to provide that, among other things, there should be no presumption of sustainable development.

 

5 Year Land Supply‚Äď NC14

“Prohibition of mandatory targets and abolition of five-year land supply rule

(1) Any housebuilding target for local planning authorities in‚ÄĒ

  • the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF),

(b) regulations made under any enactment, or

(c) any planning policy document may only be advisory and not mandatory.

 

(2) Accordingly, such targets should not be taken into account in determining planning applications.

 

(3) The NPPF must not impose an obligation on local planning authorities to ensure that sufficient housing development sites are available over five years or any other given period.‚ÄĚ

 

Member’s explanatory statement

This new clause requires a revised NPPF within six months to provide that housing targets are advisory not mandatory and that the five-year housing land supply rule will no longer apply.

 

Wokingham Conservative AGM

At the Earley AGMs on Thursday 14th June and at the  Wokingham Conservative AGM on Friday 25th June I spoke about the work I have been doing in a number of important areas.

  1. Housing numbers and a new local Plan
  2. The need for an economic policy to fight recession
  3. Measures to be taken to ease the cost of living squeeze, including some incorporated in the recent government package
  4. A new energy policy for the Uk to reduce import dependence
  5. Home grown food and the countryside
  6. Social care needs
  7. Tackling health waiting lists

Recent posts on the main website give more the background to my remarks for those interested.

GP appointments and waiting times

On Friday I joined a regular local health review meeting to hear from management where the NHS has reached in restoring services post covid and tackling waiting lists. I was told that activity levels are  up on pre 2020 figures and all waits of over 2 years have been eliminated. A and E , GP appointments and 111 calls are all well up on past levels as the NHS seeks to tackle the backlogs.

My letter to Wokingham Borough Council about A1 Car Spares

Please find below my letter to the Chief Executive at Wokingham Borough Council regarding A1 Car Spares:

Dear Susan

I am aware that my constituents have met with Wokingham Borough Council to discuss the noise levels arising from A1 Car Spares.

This is a long running situation in which the residents have had to live with the noise generated by A1 on a daily basis. My constituents tell me that A1 have failed to comply with conditions placed on them regarding hours of operation, noise and vibration levels and they have failed to adhere to their own Noise Management Plan.  The effect on the quality of life of my constituents cannot be stressed too strongly.

I am told there is relentless grinding noise, with reversing alarms from trucks sound continuously throughout the day.

Since 2019 I have worked with my constituents, Wokingham Borough Council and the Environment Agency in order to bring about a resolution which all parties can live with. Any respite achieved has been temporary and my constituents are understandably frustrated as am I.

The residents have also raised concerns about A1 cutting down protected trees and water pollution as a result of their operations.

I strongly support my constituents and I ask the Council to deal decisively with the problem and bring about a permanent solution which is long overdue.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood

My meeting with Wokingham Councillors and Planning Officers regarding the Local Plan

I met leading Councillors and Planning Officers on Friday at the Borough Council offices. I explained why I would like the next local Plan to confirm lower new housing numbers given the past pressures on green spaces, local infrastructure and public services from the rate of development.

 

The Council said it too would like to slow the growth rate. I suggested that the Council:

 

1. Maximises identified land that should be kept free of development through the various designations of green space, sites of special scientific interest, green belt, green gaps between settlements, recreation space, good quality  agricultural land and others

 

2. Do not identify a large number of marginal or unsuitable sites  as possibly suitable for housing as that might make defending decisions later more difficult.

 

3. Make a proposal for changing the way housing need is calculated, as this is central to calculating how much land needs to be identified for housing.  The  Secretary of State is currently considering whether and how to change national planning law. I would be happy to put a good working proposal to the Secretary of State.

 

The Council needs to get on with a new local Plan to cover the period up to 2037. The current Plan is near its end and is too permissive.

 

My contribution to the levelling up and planning debate

In Wokingham, there are thousands of permissions outstanding to build new homes, and thousands of new homes have been built in recent years. We do not need or want Government inspectors determining in favour of yet more homes on greenfield sites that are outside our local plan area.

I am pleased with the anger among Conservative Members about the disgrace that is the abuse of the planning system by some large development companies and rich landowners, who manage to game the system to get extra permissions and make money out of the granting of the permission while houses go unbuilt under the legitimate permissions that have been granted. I understand that the Government agree with us, so where is the new direction to the planning inspectors to say that the Government will no longer put up with that? If a statutory instrument is needed to make that clear in law, where is the statutory instrument? As the Government have now brought forward a Bill about planning law in general, can we have a clause in the Bill that nails the issue? I do not know anyone who defends the gaming of the system in that way by rich development companies‚ÄĒI do not think the Labour party defends it. The Government should nail it, so please let us see the draft clause.

The Secretary of State did not answer my polite inquiry‚ÄĒperhaps it was too polite‚ÄĒabout what will be done to ensure that local communities have more say and influence over how we define and calculate housing need and over the housing numbers that we think are appropriate and feasible for our area. Surely they have a right to a say in that and may have something useful to contribute to the discussion.

Infrastructure is crucial in this argument. In places such as Wokingham and West Berkshire, where I have the privilege to represent many of the people, we have seen a huge increase in development‚ÄĒsome granted on appeal against our wishes‚ÄĒbut no proper extra provision for infrastructure. Planners must understand that we cannot suddenly conjure up new broadband, sufficient water supply, enough cable to take the extra electricity that is required, the extra road space needed for all the extra cars, or the extra primary schools and surgeries that will be needed to cater for people.

In an area that has been subject to very fast development, as mine has, there is no excess capacity in the private sector services or the public services that are crucial to a good quality of life. It is embarrassing if planning inspectors grant permissions to build more homes and there then has to be a scramble to put in a cable big enough to take the extra power and to find private companies to organise some broadband, and of course there are the usual family arguments in the NHS and the education system to get the quite lumpy investments that are needed. All those things need to happen before the houses are opened up for people; we should not invite people into new homes that they have bought in good faith only for them to discover those pitfalls and difficulties in the provision of services.

My final point about the Bill is that I am proud to belong to a party that opposed unelected and elected regional government, and we won the argument about elected regional government in England. I would like Ministers to talk more about England, because a number of Cabinet Ministers and senior Ministers are basically England-only Ministers in practically all they do. I trust them to make some of the big calls, as long as they listen to me and my local community. We do not need regional government interjected between us and the Ministers who actually have the power and the money. Let them talk England and forget regional.

Cost of living help

 

 

Funding for Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health Services

I recently raised the issue of children’s and young people’s mental health services with the Minister. She sets out in her letter increased spending.  It is important that this money is used wisely to purchase improved service:

Dear Sir John,

Thank you for your correspondence about funding for children’s and young people’s mental health services.

I can assure your constituents that funding for children’s and young people’s mental health services is a priority for this Government.

On 27 March 2021, we published our Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, backed by a funding increase of £500million, to ensure that we have the right support in place over the coming year. This includes £79million to significantly expand children’s mental health services and allow for a faster increase in the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges. This is in addition to our commitment through the NHS Long Term Plan to invest at least £2.3billion more a year in mental health services by 2023/24, so that 345,000 more children and young people can access specialist NHS-funded mental health care.

To address the impact of COVID-19 on children‚Äôs and young people’s mental health, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced an extra ¬£40million of funding. This includes ¬£10million to provide extra beds at units providing care for young people with the most complex needs, including eating disorders, and ¬£1.5million to ensure that there are additional facilities for children under 13.

To further support children’s and young people’s mental health, the Department for Education announced £17million of mental health funding for schools and colleges to help them recover from the challenges of the pandemic. Funding worth £9.5million will be offered for up to 7,800 schools and colleges to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the current academic year; this is part of the Government’s commitment to offer this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025.

We have also launched the £7million Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which provides free expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people who are experiencing additional pressures from the last year, including trauma, anxiety, or grief. This builds on the success of the £8million Wellbeing for Education Return, which has been used by more than 90 per cent of councils since its launch last summer.

I hope this reply is helpful.

GILLIAN KEEGAN