I recently received the below letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England Plan. I warmly welcome this announcement which means that the top down Central Government targets for house building will be scrapped. It will give more responsibility to elected local councillors to decide how much development we need and where it should take place.
Archive for the ‘Stokenchurch’ Category
A letter from Eric Pickles concerning the revocation of the regional strategy for the South East of England PlanFebruary 14, 2013
Last Friday I visited and met the management of The Hub in Aston Clinton a great local business which aims to cater for the whole spectrum of needs of the local community. For further information about The Hub you can visit their website here.
Over the weekend as well as attending the Wendover Information Event for the HS2 Compensation Consultation I opened Stokenchurch’s new community library. The opening of the library is a tremendous community effort and I congratulate all those involved with it.
I have enclosed a couple of pictures from my visits below.
The local NHS consultation closes on 16 April.
To see a short and jargon-free summary and to comment online you can look HERE.
The proposals include changes to hospital services at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe. There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the local media already but if you haven’t yet what is being suggested and want to have your say, do follow the link.
From Monday 12th April at 5.00pm Parliament was dissolved. This means there will be no MPs until after the General Election on 6th May. Until that time I will be campaigning for re-election as the Conservative Party’s Candidate for Aylesbury.
My Westminster staff are not allowed to work in the House of Commons during the election campaign though they are continuing to deal as best they can with constituency casework from their homes.
To find out more about the Conservative Party’s policies please visit http://www.conservatives.com/
I was in Stokenchurch on Friday afternoon to attend a public meeting called by Stokenchurch Parish Council to discuss plans by Wycombe District Council to locate two additional travellers’ sites in the village. Longburrow Hall was packed. I reckon that well over a hundred people were there, many of whom had taken time off work to be present.
It was clear that the overwhelming majority of people at the meeting had no animus against the long established gypsy and traveller families who already live in Stokenchurch. What they fear was that the designation of the two sites, both of which are in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one of which is also in green belt land, and would open the way for significant numbers of outsiders with no previous connection to the local community. People are understandably upset when their own planning applications for modest extensions or even for garden buildings have been turned down on the grounds that green belt must be protected but then find out is that an exception is being made to the rules when it comes to travellers’ sites. Similarly, my judgement is that people are very willing to accept that their local district council must plan for the future housing needs of gypsies and travellers with connections to the Wycombe area, just as they need to plan for the needs of everybody else. What irks is the fact that the proposals now on the table have been prompted not by the local council’s own assessment of what is needed but by the need to meet a central government target. The government has not only made an assessment of Wycombe’s needs but then added an extra element to represent what it considers to be Wycombe’s share of the “regional” needs of South East England as a whole.
As I reflected on what was said at this meeting, it seemed to me that the implications of the debate went a lot wider than this particular argument about travellers’ sites. People don’t feel that they have ownership of the planning system and yet the planning system is supposed to operate to give local people a real say in striking a balance between development and conservation in the places where they live. I am convinced that the planning system, like so much else in our society, has become far too centralised. I think that governments of both parties have been guilty but there is no doubt that centralisation has accelerated during the last dozen years.
We need a different approach. A good start would be to scrap altogether the cumbersome, remote and undemocratic tier of regional planning and return housing and planning powers to elected local authorities. We should then aim to put in place a bottom-up system of planning in which district councils have to consult with people at parish and neighbourhood level. The final local plan should represent the aspirations of local people. It should be a policy in the framing of which local residents feel that they have been allowed a genuine say.
Of course there will be national infrastructure projects where it will have to be Parliament, rather than a host of different local authorities, which takes responsibility for the decision. But such cases are rare. We need to reform our planning system to make it much more responsive to local opinion and local need.