Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Local Tory housing strategy in ruins

It gives me no joy to write this post because it means that the housing shortage in the borough of Amber Valley will continue ........ and become worse ........... for the foreseeable future. This is the inevitable conclusion following this statement: Amber Valley Borough Council has expressed regret at having to withdraw its Core Strategy from the public examination that was due to resume next week. The Tory leader of the AVBC, Alan Cox said, “I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many. Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the Borough that have been given planning approval by the Council, the Council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed.”

Take a look at this: Link to an article in the Derby Evening Telegraph Why am I not surprised that Councillor Cox makes no mention of the desperate housing shortage but opines instead about the green belt.

Oh yes local Tories, you should hang your heads in shame because the duty of a council is to look after the needs of those who live in the borough, to do whatever is in their power to facilitate the health and wellbeing of those that they represent ......... housing being of prime importance. What the local Tories should be aware of is how many new homes are needed, how many wait for years for the chance to buy or to rent at an affordable rate. This current impasse follows years of failure to sort out housing needs in the area, the failure to agree the core strategy being an inevitable result of withdrawing from the active provision of homes, relying instead on the fickleness of private investors and property developers to dictate housing strategy. Make no mistake about this, Cox's admission that the council, "has no powers to force developers to start building the houses" is an admission that the changes in local government provision of housing brought in by the Thatcher government in the 1980's has skewed the housing market so that it is now no longer in a developer's interest to build homes for the poor. By playing politics with the core strategy the AVBC Tories have loaded the plan with sites that limits profitability for investors to the point where the return on investment is minimal or does not cover the cost of finance.


The effects of privatisation. I will dig out more recent data and post an update - hopefully soon


In the pre-Thatcher years this would not have happened because a council had the power to raise the capital required to build homes, maisonettes and apartments ........... according to the needs of those living in the borough. Today, the council has no control, a situation made much. much worse because they have handed over any council homes not sold off under the right to buy legislation to a housing association ........... and Osborne has this year announced that right to buy will now apply to housing associations. So we have a deteriorating stock of social housing ....... developers reluctant to build "affordable" housing ............ and not even prepared to build homes for those in a position to buy them.

This is the folly of privatisation writ large and I have to repeat that it gives me no pleasure to point out the stupidity of Tory policy. The consequences are too serious, the adverse effect it has on our local society and economy highlights that playing fast and loose with people's lives because of an unproven faith in the primacy of market forces is simply unforgivable.

I will print here the Tory statement and the Labour response to enable you to make up your own mind:

Amber Valley Council Press Release


News Release

Council compelled to withdraw Core Strategy


Amber Valley Borough Council has expressed regret at having to withdraw its Core Strategy from the public examination that was due to resume next week.

The Council had believed that after many years, and considerable public consultation and heated debate about potential housing development sites, it was finally in a position to secure formal adoption of the Core Strategy.

The reason for the withdrawal is that, following discussions with relevant housing developers in the last two weeks, the Council can no longer be confident that the developers will deliver the previously predicted number of houses within the next five years on the sites proposed by the Council. Government policy requires the Council to show that enough homes will be built in the next five years to meet objectively assessed housing need.

Cllr Alan Cox, Leader of the Council, said:
“I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many. Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the Borough that have been given planning approval by the Council, the Council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed.”

He added:
“The Council remains fully committed to establishing an up-to-date Local Plan for Amber Valley, which will provide a robust set of policies and proposals to support housing and economic growth in the Borough, whilst at the same time safeguarding and enhancing the environment. It will not, however, be practical to achieve a demonstrable five year supply, through the identification of further sites for housing development, without re-visiting the overall strategy for housing growth.

“The process of reviewing the growth strategy and reaching a conclusion as to an alternative approach, including appropriate public consultation and engagement, will take at least 12 months.”

In addressing concerns about the implications of making decisions without an up-to-date Local Plan, particularly where the Council cannot show a five year land supply, Cllr Cox said:
“This does not mean that any development, whatever the impacts, will be acceptable. Neither does it mean that there would be no point in refusing a housing scheme because we wouldn’t stand a chance on appeal. National planning policy, and the objective of pursuing sustainable development, is a material consideration in planning decisions irrespective of the status of an area’s development plan and will enable the Council to continue to protect the Green Belt and other areas of environmental importance for heritage, landscape and other reasons.”

He added:
 “Levels of planning appeals upheld against an authority’s original determination remain constant at only one per cent of all planning decisions in England. There are several recent cases where development has been refused permission, even in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan or five-year land supply, because it would conflict with national policy objectives.” 


AMBER VALLEY LABOUR GROUP PRESS RELEASE

LABOUR DEMAND COUNCIL LEADERS RESIGNATION AFTER TORY POLITICAL DECISION SPELLS DISASTER FOR AMBER VALLEY AS CORE STRATEGY IS WITHDRAWN AT LAST MINUTE
Cllr Chris Emmas-Williams, Labour shadow Deputy Leader has demanded the resignation of Amber Valley Borough Council Leader Cllr Alan Cox after the last minute withdrawal of the Council’s Core Strategy days before it was due to go before an Inspector
Cllr Emmas-Williams said ‘What a total mess the Tories have made once again in our Borough. This is the second time in two years that they have made disastrous decisions to the major planning vehicle for our next generation. When the plan was first presented the Inspector suspended the hearing because of their incompetence and now with the resumption of the hearings of the Amber Valley Local Plan Part 1 Core Strategy due to commence on Tuesday ( 15th December) next week they have had to be cancelled because the authority cannot now once again demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing land. The Tories have buried their head in the sand, removing sites purely on political grounds and despite being told by the Labour opposition that the figures that they were using were unsound since last July they have ridiculed our stance. At the last working party group meeting in early November Labour members once again questioned the 5 year supply numbers as they had changed five times in the last two weeks and were told by the Tories that they could guarantee with 100% confidence that the figures were accurate.’
' We have returned back to the ‘smoke and mirrors’ game that ex Leader Cllr Bradford used which is disastrous for the planning process and despite the comments by Conservative Cllr Alan Cox the Borough is now at the mercy of planners and developers who will get applications approved on appeal due to their total incompetence. For that reason I am asking Cllr Alan Cox to consider his position as Leader of the Council, as well as Chair of Planning, because it is through his lack of judgement and blatant political interference in the process that our green spaces are at the mercy of aggressive developers.’

Local Plan Part 1 Core Strategy Submission (what is it)

The new Amber Valley Local Plan Part 1 Core Strategy, which sets out a spatial strategy and key planning policies for development in the Borough until 2028, was originally submitted to the Secretary of State on the 20th December 2013.
The Local Plan covers everything from new homes and jobs to retail and leisure facilities, transport and local services, energy and the environment. It aims to make sure the new homes, jobs and services required by communities are located in the most sustainable places. It will also deliver the infrastructure, facilities and other development needed to make this possible. In addition, it identifies strategic sites where the Council expects the most significant developments to take place.

If you want to read more:

............ you can go to the Amber Valley Labour Group website and whilst there take a look at Paul Jone's blog (the Labour leader on AVBC)



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