The leader of Mebyon Kernow has challenged central government to democratise the planning system and for all planning decisions to be taken in Cornwall.
Cllr Dick Cole – who is standing in the St Austell and Newquay seat in the General Election – claims 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.”
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.”
Photograph of Cllr Dick Cole with Cllr Matthew Luke (Penwithick and Boscoppa) at “West Carclaze” where green fields could be lost to the proposed “eco-community.”