Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (30th January 2014) renewed his determination to stop a housing development in Saltburn despite what he called the “thick-headed” previous decision of opposition councillors to combine to kill off the Council’s Local Plan.
“The Council’s Regulatory Committee will be studying this application next week, and I have now read the council’s planning officers report which recommends approval of the 130 home development on open farmland next to Wilton Bank.
“Having read the report, I am conscious of the problems caused by a recent thick headed decision by opposition councillors to kill off the Council’s Local Plan – a framework document that explicitly omitted the site from any consideration of development. The council officers now have to admit – and I use their words “Following the Borough Council’s decision not to approve the Local Plan… and the revised Local Plan timetable indicating that the new Local Plan will be adopted until 2017, the only opportunity to increase the supply of housing in the next few years is through the planning application process.” This shows just how stupid the decision taken was.
“However, I believe there are still material planning grounds to reject the proposal. In their report council officers accept that “The application site is located outside of development limits… and, therefore, the proposals would be contrary to the development plan and should treated as a departure from the plan.” I concur with that view.
“In addition, whilst developers Taylor Wimpey argue that the council does not have a 5 year land bank for development – the hurdle erected by Eric Pickles’ National Planning Framework – council planners maintain that this is wrong and that the Council’s latest five-year supply assessment indicates that there is a 5.3 years supply, which is above this requirement. Given this, I would also argue that this is another reason why the proposal should be rejected by councillors on the basis that they would seek to see that this target is maintained by only use of sites which were identified in that past Local Plan.
“But the great tragedy is that this all should not have been allowed to happen. It is only the thoughtless, inane, actions of a cabal of Tory, Lib Dem, Independent and Green councillors that leaves us where we are today. Indeed, in a reply of the adage of tragedy followed by farce, a leading opposition councillor who played a leading part in the junking of the Local Plan now argues in his submission to the committee that any alterations to existing policies – and again I quote “should be via a council’s Local Plan” – which the one he killed had that safeguard for this site. Quite simply, words fail me.”