Secretary of State for Housing, Michael Gove, stressed the importance of an up-to-date Local Plan in keeping speculative development at bay after local MP, Dr Luke Evans, raised continued delays by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council leadership in producing a complete plan.
In a second reading for the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities said he was surprised at Liberal Democrat-run Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council for their continued absence of an up-to-date Local Plan: a key part of controlling planning and infrastructure in the area.
The local MP took the opportunity in the House of Commons to – once-again – raise with the Government the continued concerns and frustrations raised by constituents about the Borough Council leadership, as every day that goes past without a signed off plan leaves our community vulnerable.
Up-to-date Local Plans are necessary because, without them, the borough is susceptible to speculative and piecemeal developments.
The intervention arose as the Secretary of State was dealing with some of the flaws in the current system that are hoping to be addressed, such as funding for infrastructure, areas not taking their fair-share of houses and the issue of “land-banking” by developers who don’t build on land that has already been signed off for housing.
The Borough Council planning department staff have been working to produce a new Local Plan over the last two years, but there have been delays along the process. The department has been struggling with recruitment and the Liberal Democrat leaders at the Council – who took control in May of 2019 – now state they expect the Local Plan will be published in 2023.
Dr Luke Evans MP said “Planning is something constituents often contact me about, but I have no control over the new houses being forced on our area. Despite repeated offers of assistance from the Government and Homes England, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council most recently submitted a draft Local Plan which risks being deemed unsound – due to a lack in consideration of infrastructure provisions – leaving our area open to speculative development for a prolonged period of time.
“We need the right houses, in the right place, with the right infrastructure and amenities, and the right safeguards and protections for our heritage and environment. This is what the Bill is seeking to bring about.”
“After hearing about these continued delays the Housing Secretary shares my dismay with leadership at the Borough Council. I will continue to bring this to the attention of the Government and urge the Lib Dems at HBBC to work with them and protect our area from further strain on already-overburdened infrastructure.”
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, said “I am shocked that this Liberal Democrat authority doesn’t have a [current] plan in place and as a result, housing numbers are spiralling out of control.
“Developers friends – called the Liberal Democrats – are concreting over the countryside. This Legislation will safeguard our green spaces and natural environment.”