Subject: Letter for publication
From Cllr Roger Truelove
Leader Swale Borough Council
In October you published a prominent report on correspondence sent to our Chief Executive by a Parish Councillor from Lynsted.
The Councillor was urging Swale Council to put a stop to its Local Plan review because of a speech made by the Prime Minister at his party conference, apparently pledging not to build on greenfield sites.
A number of people across the country believed that speech indicated a real change of policy and raised hopes in Kent that a relaxation of the unsustainable housing targets might take place.
So, on behalf of the people of Swale, I wrote to the newly appointed Minister for Local Government, Michael Gove, seeking clarification around these points.
I have now had a reply, not from Mr Gove, but from the Minister of State for Housing, Mr Pincher.
The reply could not be clearer.
He says that the Government’s priority for getting plans in place by 2023 has not changed, and the “not” is later underlined in ink.
Local authorities must prioritise getting up to date plans in place under the National Planning Policy Framework.
- There is absolutely no reference to the Prime Minister’s speech.
- There is no sign of numbers being lowered.
The Minister says quite bluntly
“Local Authorities are more at risk of appeals and speculative planning applications being successful if they do not have a local plan.”
So, Swale Council, with due reluctance, has to press on trying to carry out the Government’s excessive demands with the threat that not to do so will lead to uncontrolled development.
It is disappointing that the Prime Minister’s speech led to unfounded optimism and I hope the true situation is now made clear.