I have been receiving a number of emails drafted as part of a national camapign from constituents, urging me to ensure the new planning policy protects areas of landscape value. The new Planning Policy does keep safe Green Belt, ANOB and SSSI designaitons, all national areas of prtotection which will remain. It also allows Councils to perotect other areas from development.
As constituents will know, I have always been a keen advocate of protecting many of Wokingham’s remaining greenfields. This proved difficult under the previous planning policy, where top down housing targets forced development on flood plain and in other unsuitable locations through the system of appeals against Council decisions.
I also wish to see sufficient new homes available, as I strongly support home ownership and wish a new generation of young people to have the opportunity to acquire their own homes. The new Planning Policy should allow these two important aims to be reconciled at the local level. Instead of regional and naitonal government deciding how many homes will be built in each Council area, and awarding planning permissions on appeal whatever local feeling may be, the main driver of the new system is the local Plan.
Local Councils can under local Plans decide how many homes should be built and where they should be built. By definition this also means they can decide where new development is not permitted. Wokingham Council already has a local Plan. Councillors have proposed substantial new development in four main locations. In order to protect the rest of the District and to get the full benefits they see from more concentrated development they need to make sure their local Plan gives the proper Plan protections to the rest of our greenfields. They will have my full support in doing this.
I will of course support local communities and the Council on appeal should green areas be subject to planning demands by developers. It will only be possible to win these appeals if the local Plan is clear about the areas that are being protected.