Local MPs Liam Fox and John Penrose have confirmed that they will go through with their promise, made two weeks ago, to get Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to call in a decision by planning inspectors to impose 21,000 extra houses to be built in North Somerset, against the democratic will of local communities.
The powers have never been used before, but the MPs, backed by North Somerset Council feel so strongly that the Inspector’s decision is unacceptable, that they have decided to go ahead. They are concerned that the overall figure of 21,000 is too high, that the homes will have to be built too quickly, and that they would overload local infrastructure, damage the environment including flood defences, and undermine democratically-approved local community development plans.
John Penrose and Liam Fox said, “The inspectors’ decision is completely unacceptable. Yes, we need more local housing but we need to build at a speed and in a way that doesn’t damage the environment, overload infrastructure or harm local communities. We also need to make sure that local residents are consulted on this by having our own, democratically-approved local plans which make it clear where houses can be built and where they can’t. That means building up rather than out as we regenerate places like central Weston, instead of putting green fields under pressure. Clearly, inspectors haven’t taken into account the impact that their recommendations would have on our local infrastructure – our schools, GPs and road network – so, as we had promised earlier, we’re asking for their report to be called in and decided by Eric Pickles and his Ministers.”
John Penrose MP added “The inspectors’ report is hugely disappointing. Local people are the ones who would have to put up with the consequences if these plans go through but their wishes seem to have been ignored by inspectors. I don’t think that’s right and that’s why I’m calling on Eric Pickles to do what’s best for our local communities.”
Dr Liam Fox MP said “We must not sacrifice our green belt for short term considerations. It is part of the legacy that we leave to future generations and we must not overload the infrastructure on our current towns and villages which would damage the quality of life for those who already live there”.