THE controversial issue of planning for new homes within the Cotswold district has been addressed at the very highest level of government.
During last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, a session in which MPs can grill the Prime Minister, Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown raised further concerns about the number of planning applications bombarding the district.
He said that the Cotswolds is “a very special place” but over the last 12 months it has been threatened by “thousands of applications for new houses”.
“Localism seems to have gone out the window and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is simply not being protected. What can my right hon. Friend to do help resolve that?” he asked.
In the absence of David Cameron, who was in Israel at the time, Mr Clfiton-Brown’s question was answered by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Mr Clegg agreed that the Cotswolds are “some of the country’s most important treasures” and that weight should be given to conserving such areas.
He said: “We announced only last week that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and national parks will be excluded from new legislation allowing agricultural buildings to be converted into housing with the need for planning applications.”
Cotswold District Council’s lack of an up-to-date Local Plan, which sets out housing requirements in the area for the next 17 years, has meant that planning applications for new homes in the Cotswolds have been coming through thick and fast.
Cllr Nick Parsons, CDC deputy leader and cabinet member for forward planning, said he was pleased that Mr Clifton-Brown was bringing attention to the level of pressure that the Cotswolds is under in terms of applications being permitted on appeal.
“It is important that central government and Parliament are kept up to date on the difficulties and harm caused by government’s driver for new houses, regardless of the views of the local people,” he said.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Lib Dem leader on CDC, also raised the issue of planning at the Liberal Democrat party conference in York last week.
He said that the planning system needs reforming so that “people on the ground have more control over where houses go”.