Archive for Planning

Tom’s objection to housing proposals at Wilton Bank

Dear Ms Skelton,

Planning Application R/2014/0631/00M

I wish to lodge a formal objection to this application lodged by Messrs Taylor Wimpy PLC, and which involves a proposal to build 130 houses on land directly to the west of Wilton Bank in Saltburn, and which is on land presently used as a riding stable and large exercise paddock.

I recognise that in strict geographical terms this land is within the St Germain’s ward of the council and therefore outwith my own constituency, but this is a matter of mere yards and the proposal does impinge on my Saltburn constituents.

My objections are as follows.

This was not a site identified in the emerging local plan for any housing allocation.  I recognise that a full meeting of the council did determine to expunge this document and this requiring the exercise to start afresh.  I accept this decision, although I have said publically that it was wrong headed, and those who voted for this are culpable of derailing a key policy document that every council needs to have.  However, the wording and recommendations of that document are on record and I believe that it is incumbent on all members of the Regulatory Committee to bear this in mind when determining this application.

Secondly, the existing plan structure now relies on the 2007 Local Development Framework.  This is now an old document, and reflects past conditions.  However it exists and must be seen as a material consideration.  Thus, the fact that this proposal is outside of the then accepted limits to development in and around Saltburn must be seen as important.

Thirdly, the proposal further erodes the accepted and long standing green wedge between Saltburn and Marske.  This was seen as proper grounds for the previous rejection of a proposal for housing at the Eastern end of Windy Hill Lane, although I am aware that this is now, given the deletion of the local plan, being appealed by the developers.

Fourthly the proposal does, in my view, detract from the essentially rural aspect of the land that slopes to the South of the site and this impinges significantly on the natural countryside running up to the ridge from above the Skelton Beck Valley to the ridge above the Skelton Beck Valley and Errington Woods.

Fifthly, the previous use of this site has been, for many years now, totally non-agricultural, and given this, much of the land resembles in its make-up, natural pastureland, and the home to a significant variety of flora and fauna.  This is a precious natural resource and should be protected.

Sixthly, I feel given the importance of this proposal, that there needs to be a site meeting at which members of the regulatory committee can view the site and hear the formal objections of local residents and myself.

Can these views be forwarded to your development control officers for tabling on the occasion when this application is to be debated and determined?

I look forward to hearing from them in due course.

With all best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Blenkinsop MP

“Sand in the eyes” for localism

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, today (14th January 2014) described new planning proposals by the Coalition Government as ‘sand in the eyes for any localism agenda they may have once had’.

The Coalition will unveil a package of measures in April that will give developers the power to push though applications without the need for council approval or environmental assessments.

Tom said:
“What we are hearing from the Planning Minister is that he is basically acting like a bully and kicking sand in the eyes of local communities and local councils. It destroys any illusions of a localism agenda that they may have once had – that pretence is well and truly over. These new proposals will allow developers to ride roughshod over local opinion.

“Put simply, any developer can now procrastinate over planning conditions and then use that as an excuse to blame the delay on a council and simply go ahead with their development – no matter how disliked it may be by local people.

“The removal of the onus to develop an environmental assessment for any large scale development is also worrying. In urban terms, it could mean that we see development on possibly polluted land or on land that could be prone to flooding. Whilst in rural areas it could mean that development could kill off rare animals and plant species – which an environmental assessment would have identified and have protected.

“Locally we know that developers are still interested in greenfield sites on the edge of Guisborough, and this will simply intensify that interest to the stage where we will see further incursions into our local countryside.

“It just shows that the Tories are simply in the pockets of the big builders and have no interest in the views and opinions of local communities.”

‘Teesside Tories and Lib Dems saying one thing and doing another’ – planning stances raised in Westminster debate

Today (8th January 2014), in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Planning reform and local plans’, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop highlighted the seemingly hypocritical stances adopted by Teesside Coalition MPs James Wharton and Ian Swales.

Tom said:
“Many residents in Stockton South and Redcar have been left confused by the position their Members of Parliament have taken over development proposals and draft Local Plans.

“For example, Stockton Council has been under continual attack by the Tory MP for Stockton South (James Wharton) for its planning decisions, with him branding the Council’s Leader as “Bob the Builder”. This is despite the fact that the Hon. Member has not once since May 2010 objected to a planning application, and despite the fact that it is his Government that is coercing the Council into making these decisions.

“It is not just Stockton Council that finds itself under attack. Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council has been subjected to much criticism over its draft Local Plan from local Liberal Democrats. I have submitted a response to the consultation for this document, as has my colleague Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar, who has urged for the inclusion of a commitment to a traditional pier and stressed her opposition to proposed developments in Marske.

“Despite criticism of the Council’s draft Local Plan in the press and in their dubious Focus leaflets, neither the Lib Dem MP for Redcar or the Redcar and Cleveland Liberal Democrats have responded to the consultation.

Tom added:
“Residents in both Redcar and Stockton South will not be duped when it comes to Teesside Tories and Lib Dems saying one thing but do another.”

Anger as Pickles green lights Grey Towers

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, today (15th October 2012) expressed his anger at the decision by Tory Ministers to not call-in the proposed development on greenfield land at Grey Tower Farm and claimed “the process has become utterly pointless under this government”.

Tom said:

“Local residents will rightly be disappointed with this decision and will have serious concerns over the call-in procedure. Formerly, one of the strongest tools to ensure local voices get heard, the process has become utterly pointless under this government – now we have ministers saying one thing and doing another.

“In the response it is acknowledged that the development is “locally controversial” which downright contradicts an earlier statement in the letter about giving more power to local communities. Whilst disappointing, unfortunately, it is hardly surprising. Only a few months ago developers were making large donations to the Conservatives; now we find planning policy in complete disarray and borderline a free-for-all on greenbelt land.

“The Department for Local Communities and Local Government needs to get its house in order or this could be the first in an onslaught of poor decisions by Tory Whitehall chiefs harming local communities.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP demands quick response from Redcar and Cleveland Council to Boosbeck Slaughterhouse fiasco

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, berated Redcar and Cleveland Council for their “sheer incompetence in approving a slaughterhouse in Boosbeck”.

Reiterating his clear opposition to the development, Tom Blenkinsop said “It is taking too long for council officials to get back in touch with BASH, myself and the development owner to discuss more suitable premises, as promised in previous meetings and communications. I complained to the Council over two and a half months ago about the processes involved in approving the slaughterhouse, but I am yet to receive a response to my original complaint.

In previous meetings, we had an understanding that a potential deal could be made for all parties to be happy. The potential for a deal is still on the table, but time is slipping by. We cannot wait any further and need action from the Council immediately to rectify the planning officers’ earlier decision.”

Boosbeck Labour Councillor Dave Williams agreed with Tom: “The view in Boosbeck is that, whilst things are moving, the Council must act quicker.”

Tom said: “From the start, inept decisions have been taken. A catalogue of poor judgement calls have got us here, which I have made clear to Redcar and Cleveland Council. However, there still remains a clear way out for the Council. Let’s get on with doing the work to make this deal happen, so Boosbeck’s residents can be left in peace.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP calls for “rethink” on South Middlesbrough housing development following announcement of new planning policies and of the financial links between developers and the Government

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (27th March 2012) called on Government planning ministers to ‘call a halt’ to the consideration of proposals for the building of hundreds of costly executive houses in Nunthorpe after the announcement of new planning laws and also of fresh revelations that the house building industry had been making large cash donations to the Conservative Party.

Tom said “the announcement of the new planning policies were – as expected – an endorsement of the pleas made to the Government by the big volume house builders for what is effectively a ‘build anywhere’ policy, something that will put much of the countryside at risk.

I was also concerned – in the wake of the cash for access to the PM scandal – to hear of the revelation from the Electoral Commission that in the final quarter of 2011, developers gave more than £267,000 to the Tories –outstripping the £243,000 they had given in the preceding three months. It is clear beyond all doubt that the big house builders have been buying influence, and this, I would argue, taint all planning decisions that have been taken on the basis of assumptions on what would be in the National Planning Framework. I put these accusations face to face to Mr Clark across the floor of the House of Commons – accusations he failed to answer.

Following this weeks scandal of cash for access at the highest level, I believe the Government must come clean about these links with the house builders urgently – and in public – and state whether any guidance written up by these donors may have been used in the drafting of the Coalition’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework.”

Tom Blenkinsop MP Calls For “Rethink” on South Middlesbrough Housing Development as News Emerges of the Financial Links Between Developers and Government

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, called on both Middlesbrough Council and Government planning ministers to ‘call a halt’ to the consideration of proposals for the building of hundreds of costly executive houses in Nunthorpe after news emerged yesterday (23rd February 2012) that the house building industry had been making large cash donations to the Conservative Party.

It emerged yesterday from figures published by the electoral watchdog that construction and property firms gave £510,000 to the party between July and December last year – more than £2,700 a day. In the final quarter of 2011, developers gave more than £267,000 to the Tories – 9p in every pound – outstripping the £243,000 for the previous three months, according to the Electoral Commission’s figures. The increasing amounts being given to the Conservatives coincided with the publication of the controversial National Planning Policy Framework, which campaigners say will make it easier to build on parts of rural England.

Tom said “This means – to me at least – that the Government’s new planning policies are ‘tainted’ by this cash association and the fear that cash has been used to buy influence to make it easier to push through developments such as Grey Towers Farm in Nunthorpe. Time and time again, the members of the council’s planning committee were told that these new policies made any rejection futile – yet these new policies are now themselves under suspicion.

The Government also must come clean about these allegations and to look urgently whether any undue influence from these donors may have been used in the drafting of the Coalition’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework.”

Tom Blenkinsop in “think again” plea to Middlesbrough Council over future of Lingfield Countryside Centre

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP has today (23rd February 2012) pleaded with Middlesbrough Borough Council to “think again” over the future of the Lingfield Countryside Centre in Coulby Newham.

The farm was part of the land purchased for the development of the Coulby Newham estate, and up to recent years has been an outdoor leisure centre for local youngsters and the Coulby Newham community. It is currently unused and the council have now said that they want to look at releasing the land for development.

Tom said “I am a realist, and I am only too well aware of the tremendous pressures put on local councils by the financial cuts imposed by the coalition government, and it is no surprise that they do have to look to develop land they own to help to fund services. However, I do have to say that the local community have always seen the Lingfield Countryside Centre as a local amenity and a ‘green lung’ for Coulby Newham.

Up to now this had been recognised by Middlesbrough Council, and indeed the latest edition of their “green strategy” saw the importance of centres like this, and suggested the expansion of Lingfield Countryside Centre as a field study centre, an eco-park and a educational resource for local schools. It was suggested that this could be part funded by European development funding.

The problem is, is that if the centre is sold off, and then goes under concrete for more housing, the chances of such an ambition for Coulby Newham is lost forever. I am told by local people that this is something they would hate to see happening.

Middlesbrough Council have said that they want to study a document their officers will be drawing up as a basis for looking to the future of the site. I would hope – and I will be formally asking – for this document to also look at keeping the centre alive and to explore options to allow this to happen.”

New direction from Government to National Parks to “relax planning rules” could spell “unwanted” East Cleveland speculative housing development applications

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (November 22nd 2011) that new directions to National Parks from the Government’s Environment Department could mean a ‘rash of speculative housing planning applications for open land near to Guisborough and parts of East Cleveland.’

Tom said “The release of a new Business Plan from DEFRA last week contained the words ‘Ministers will consult whether the legislation for National Park Authorities needs to better reflect their role in facilitating sustainable development’ something that follows on from previous comments from Government advisers who have said that by giving National Parks this aim it would mean that they are “expected to deliver socio-economic benefits when pursuing their purposes”.

“Stripped of the bureaucratic language this is couched in, this means that National Parks – including the North York Moors National Park, parts of which borders towns in my constituency like Guisborough and Easington – could well be made to submit to agreeing to new, speculative, housing developments in these areas. There has already been past attempts to see if land could be freed up for housing in parts of the park near to Guisborough, but these were seen off due to the landscape importance of the area and the legal planning status of the NYMNP.”

“But if these news move succeed, these defences could be fatally holed below the waterline, giving developers a “licence to build” on some of the most pristine and stunning parts of my constituency. Pressure is growing on parks authorities to find other sources of income after their funding was cut in last year’s spending review, leading to concerns that some could come under pressure from sponsoring ministries to allow more development to bring in extra income and resources via ‘planning gain’. This cannot be allowed to come about, and I would hope the North York Moors Park Committee and officers resist this pressure, something that all lovers of the park would want and expect.”