The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced by the Westminster parties in March 2012 to help speed up house-building.
There is no doubt that Cornwall needs to build more housing to accommodate local population growth, but the housing must be affordable and ‘affordable’ meaning at a price local wage packets in Cornwall can afford. (Westminster has unilaterally reduced the threshold for affordable housing.)
Housing figures to accommodate that growth, assuming the local population growth continued at the same rate over the next 20 years, was assumed to be around 33,000. That still represented a large amount of growth, but it was claimed a lower figure would have been harder to justify to the Planning Inspector. Cornwall Council developed a ‘Local Plan’ that had a housing figure of 47,500 houses to be built in Cornwall, the council saying anything less and Westminster will impose a higher figure.
Policies imposed by the Westminster parties
And that has been the problem for Cornwall over the decades. The Westminster-imposed policies trump those made in Cornwall, especially those regarding planning, and is a major concern in an area renowned for natural beauty but fragile infrastructure.
Cornwall Council does challenge developers’ applications. But while most appeals are dealt with in writing between the appellant, the council’s team, and the Planning Inspectorate (which is, apparently, a government agency in Bristol), some lead to a public inquiry and a full hearing. This drastically escalates costs because of the fees of legal teams on both sides and a possible QC, which can last up to two weeks.
The number of successful appeals over the refusal of planning permission, where costs have been awarded against Cornwall Council, is rising to unaffordable levels and it’s the people of Cornwall footing the bill. Cornwall could be placed in a position where it can no longer challenge developers’ planning applications.
Westminster’s ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ is based upon a ‘presumption in favour’ that has led to unchecked and damaging development in many areas. Many communites in Cornwall, including Probus, Goonhavern, St Ives, Truro, Penzance, Gwinear and others are fighting against inappropriate development that’s driven more by developer’s needs rather than sustainable planned growth. So much for Westminster’s version of ‘localism’ that gives the false impression of locals having more say.
Westminster’s designed housing targets, set to accommodate and encourage 2nd house ownership and an unsustainable inward migraton to Cornwall, makes it obvious that Westminster, situated 300 miles away, has little or no idea about Cornwall’s delicate infrastructure that can grind to a halt eg:
Schools short of places
‘Bed blocking’ in our hospitals, operations suspended.
GP’s surgeries unable to cope with the extra population
Dentists will also find it hard to cope
Care for the elderly & infirm
A&E departments full to capacity
Flooding due to piping systems unable to cope with excessive housing figures
Traffic problems, car parking, congestion, emergency services etc;
Employment: Local people have enough trouble finding work today without an added inward migration
Local Plan: In breach of Article 16 of the Framework Charter for the Protection of National Minorities (in which Parties shall refrain from measures which alter the proportions of the population in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities, in this case, Cornish people)
Our farmers need the land to grow the food that sustains us. It must not be allowed to become urbanised. But the only answer to an over-centralised Westminster and its diktats is devolution; not the devolution decided by central government, but a but law-making Cornish Assembly. An Assembly that will allow Cornwall to make the polices that are sustainable for Cornwall and her people.
Only one party exists to bring about that Cornish Assembly, Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.
Mebyon Kernow exits to shift the power from the corridors of Westminster to the streets and communities of Cornwall. The leader of Mebyon Kernow, Dick Cole, has challenged central government to democratise the planning system and for all planning decisions to be taken in Cornwall. Cllr Cole – who is standing in the St Austell and Newquay seat in the General Election – realises that the influence of central government is undermining the planning system locally. He said: “The Coalition’s ‘presumption in favour’ of development in their National Planning Policy Framework has led to unchecked and damaging development in many areas, while the views of local people have often been ignored.”
Traffic congested Truro
Cllr Cole has set out a number of his concerns.
• Over the last few years, the unitary authority has been debating what Cornwall’s housing target should be for the period 2010-2030. Central government claims that local councils can make the decision, but it has put in place an inspection regime that forces them to adopt higher targets than the majority of residents would prefer.
• The Coalition has pushed through a recent diktat that unilaterally reduced the threshold for affordable housing, which will be particularly damaging in Cornwall.
• ‘Upcountry’ planning inspectors have granted numerous applications against the wishes of local communities. One of the most recent appeals allowed a development of 131 new properties in St Austell, even though it had been opposed by local councillors and residents.
• And the so-called “eco-community” is progressing because central government has specified such a development through one of its planning policy statements.
Cllr Cole added:
“Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for all decisions about planning to be taken in Cornwall. We want the right to have a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework to replace the NPPF produced by central government; we want housing targets to be agreed locally without interference from Whitehall; and we want any appeal process to also be controlled from within Cornwall.”
On Thursday May 7th, the people of Cornwall have a choice as to how they are governed: Vote for Westminster or vote for Cornwall.