Holding the Labour Council to account on housing development

Over the last couple of years, North East Derbyshire has been hit by a large number of speculative planning applications which, if passed, would permit the building of thousands of new houses in completely inappropriate areas. Each of these proposals would result in the loss of precious green field or greenbelt land whilst large tracts of brownfield sites lay undeveloped, often nearby. Most importantly, communities across the constituency feel completely left out of a planning process which seems to do things to, rather than with, them.

There are multiple reasons why we are in the position we are as an area but, ultimately, the issues all lead back to the District Council who, over many years, have not done their job on planning and protected our area properly:

  • Every local authority is supposed to update their local development plan saying where houses should and shouldn’t be built – yet North East Derbyshire have not updated theirs since 2005
  • Every Council is supposed to be able to demonstrate that it has a supply of land to be built on for the next five years – but North East Derbyshire didn’t have one for years and years and so had to adopt a policy in 2010 which allowed development on the periphery of villages and towns where it wouldn’t normally be permitted
  • Every village and town has the opportunity to make its own decisions about where new development should go if it is needed – but the local Council was not active in promoting these ‘Neighbourhood Plans’ and so only a few communities in North East Derbyshire are pursuing them
  • Every Council should actively engage with their local community to talk about planning – yet North East Derbyshire have not been vocal enough for years and residents feel short-changed that they haven’t had the opportunity to shape plans which will change our area significantly

Since becoming your Member of Parliament in 2017, I have seen first-hand what happens when a Council doesn’t do its job properly on planning – anger not just about what is contained in the hugely-delayed new Local Plan but also, because that Plan hasn’t been adopted yet, a raft of speculative planning applications from developers across the District who are hoping to win planning permissions in massively inappropriate parts of North East Derbyshire.  In recent months, the Council have also poorly handled a number of planning appeals which means that even more housing is being built in the wrong places.

This has got to stop. I am committed to holding Labour-led North East Derbyshire to account to get their Local Plan in place, to make sure it is a Plan that local residents are genuinely involved in, to promote Neighbourhood Planning where communities take charge of their development and to make sure that they apply planning policies correctly in the meantime. Most importantly, I will help local residents to fight inappropriate planning applications which will change the face of villages like Wingerworth, Old Tupton, North Wingfield and Ashover forever – and which should never have been possible in the first place if the Council had done its job.

In late 2017, the Government also recognised that North East Derbyshire was failing in its duties to local residents in its planning policies.  The District Council was just one of fifteen in the entire country to be named and shamed for not putting a plan in place.  Their draft local plan - which contains many flaws still - has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate but, outrageously, they made no changes to it following a consultation with local residents earlier this year.  The District leadership are simply ignoring local residents in this process.  In early December, I spoke at the hearings of the Planning Inspectorate to say why this plan needed to be changed before it was adopted.

This isn’t about house building in general. I support the need for more houses and I know we must ensure that residents can get a foot on the housing ladder. We can start by speeding up the building on brownfield sites like The Avenue and Biwaters (along with building the right infrastructure to accompany it) and then the Council can actually start planning properly with local communities, supported by community referenda, about where building is necessary.

Fundamentally, planning is a local Council matter. Yet when the local Council fail to do their job over many years, we need to hold the leadership of that Council to account and try to help residents sort out the mess the local authority has got us into here. I will stand up for local residents until the Council sort this issue out.


Attachment Size
Letter to Cllr Baxter.pdf 459.5 KB
Local Plan response - 05042018.pdf 670.42 KB