Dear Mr Adam Afriyie MP,
I am one of almost a quarter of a million people who signed the National Trust petition asking the Government to think again about your reforms of the planning system.
I live in Binfield, a place I love and feel passionately about. But as you will have seen Bracknell Forest Council voted, on November 30th, to press ahead with their plans to dump almost all their new housing in Binfield and Warfield. Thousands of new houses on our golf course and countryside, merging our villages to Bracknell in one enormous urban sprawl. May I remind you that prior to the election you told everyone that you would fight this inappropriate development tooth and nail. On behalf of the thousands of local residents who have signed the local residents petition in protest at the councils plans, may I respectfully point out that your actions to fight ‘tooth and nail’ are sadly invisible to the residents of Binfield and Warfield. We have all heard your promises and fine words about inappropriate development, but we saw no effective action from you and now it is too late to save our cherished places.
When I signed the National Trust petition I did so because I want to see places like Binfield and Warfield better protected in planning policy. We need a planning system which delivers better places to live and work and a better quality of life for all; meeting our needs for housing, jobs and green spaces while also protecting our environment; and delivering for the long as well as the short term. This is the kind of smart growth this country needs.
Disappointingly, Government Ministers are still talking about planning as a brake on progress, the need to ‘unblock the system’ to deliver economic growth, and as a target for deregulation.
We need better planning, not a deregulated free for all.
The NPPF is being produced according to a timetable that is essentially set by Treasury (the Plan for Growth). This states that the new policy must be in place by April 2012. Surely this reinforces the message, coming from the very top of Government, that the planning system is being skewed above all to immediate economic growth, above other social and environmental imperatives? It cannot be right that a policy which the Minister has said should be in place for 40 years is based on short term economic needs and is not subjected to thorough scrutiny.
I hope and expect that the Government will llisten to what the public have said and will produce a new NPPF which is much more visionary and long term in its approach. I would also hope, given the need for a comprehensive redrafting, that the Government will consider a second round of consultation. Will you support me in calling for this?