PLAN: Necessary to limit risk

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A letter from Sean Brockbank, Conservative candidate, regarding the Local Plan, questions councillors’ ability to represent residents, (News Guardian, August 10).

Perhaps he wishes the situation was different, but this council, the same as all others in the country, has an obligation to prepare a Local Plan.

This was an instruction from the last two Conservative Prime Ministers, David Cameron in 2015 and more recently Theresa May in July 2017. If the council did not prepare a plan then the Whitehall civil servants would do it for us.

Just to be certain that councils followed the Conservative government’s policy that all plans must be based upon and reflect the presumption in favour of sustainable development, it appointed inspectors, whose duty was to check the plans against government policy and either agree the plan, or send the council back to the drawing board to produce another plan.

To date, more than 30 councils have had their plans rejected because of too few houses proposed.

All the objections put forward by the Conservatives were heard and rejected by the government-appointed inspector.

Following amendments made by the inspector, the plan was subsequently agreed in council.

If the plan had been rejected by the council there would be no protection as the inspector had already heard and rejected the arguments and alternatives.

This would have left us with no plan, and while we waited for the government to implement one for us, we would be at risk of speculative planning applications from developers.

As a result of current government policy and guidance, we would risk losing costly appeals on such sites, harming the long-term future of North Tyneside.

Our recent experience has shown that despite our refusal to agree planning on new sites, the appeal process has allowed the development.

Local Conservatives might be prepared to take a gamble on the fact that developers would not submit planning applications for not 3,000, but 5,000 houses on the Murton Gap site, and limiting protection for the green belt.

However, we took the decision to go for medium growth to try to limit development within the legal boundaries set by the government, and not to gamble with over-development and loss of green belt for North Tyneside.

If the local Conservatives have such conviction that they are correct, then why don’t they ask their Prime Minister to set aside the plans?

Norma Redfearn

Elected Mayor, North Tyneside