The Coalition promised us a bonfire of the Quangos, which might have helped reduce the UK deficit, but that was clearly too difficult. Instead, we have seen examples, such as the Planning Inspectorate, where their powers, numbers and cost to the taxpayer, you and I, have grown dramatically.
So, it was interesting to see in last week’s West Sussex County Times that our MP, Nick Herbert, has moved from promising to make the Planning Inspectorate redundant to, “curtailing its powers…” It is also notable that it has taken him more than four and a half years to actually raise his voice, in Westminster, about our green fields being swamped in bricks and mortar … I cannot think why he feels the need to put himself out now, maybe he has finished writing his book ?
In addition Nick Herbert tells us Horsham District Council has produced a ‘responsible Plan’. This, despite significant flaws being identified at the Planning Inspector’s Hearing and includes an unrealistic 20 year target of 650 new dwellings every year.
In the eight years, prior to the recession an average of 450 homes were built per annum. When this is put alongside the fact that the ratio between average house prices and salaries in our District is more than twice the long term average it is obvious that 650 homes every year is unachievable.
Developers only build what they can sell at a profit so we either accept a large intake of commuting, wealthy, families from London and surrounding areas who wish to move to a beautiful and rural area or we adjust the house building target to the, ‘delivery rates before and after the recession’, as proposed by the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis.
Which despite Nick Herbert’s glowing report Horsham District Council has failed to do, leaving the National Planning Policy Framework’s, ‘presumption in favour of developers’, door wide open for Nick Herbert’s Planning Inspectorate to permit further indiscriminate building on our green and pleasant land. Not many voters would classify this as, ‘responsible’. We are all aware that our rail and road links, our doctors’ surgeries and schools, our water and electrical supplies are all well beyond full capacity. We cannot, responsibly, accept thousands of families from outside our area without significant investment.
Something else Nick, and the coalition Government are aware of, building on green field land has doubled during this Parliament while the total number of houses built has not risen much above half of his Government’s UK annual target of 240,000 houses per annun. As fast as we are losing green fields forever, the developers’ profits have climbed.
Nick and his coalition Government, under ‘Localism’, promised to, ‘abolish Regional Strategies, putting elected local councillors back in charge, accountable via the ballot box’. Instead they have dictated house building targets from central Government before putting developers in charge, backed up by their remote, unelected, Planning Inspectorate. This is not a definition of ‘localism’ that any English speaker is aware of.
It is not just the Planning Inspectorate Quango that needs to be made redundant, it is also those MPs who have only just decided to try and address our problems because there is less than six months to go to a general election and they have a weekend spare between book signings.
We need to change the status quo.
Arundel and South Downs UKIP Parliamentary Candidate, Chanctonbury, Ashington