‘Automatic development in principle will be alarming for many’ – says South Lakes councillor

COUNCILLORS in the South Lakes are at odds over the Government’s controversial new planning reforms.

Last week, Number 10 issued a White Paper entitled ‘Planning for the Future’ set out a number of sweeping reforms designed to overhaul the planning system in England.

A group of prospective Liberal Democrat councillors in Cumbria have warned the proposals open ‘the way for unrestricted housing development including in rural areas without making any provision for affordable housing for local people’.

The Liberal Democrats say they want to see 100,000 new social homes built every year across England, and are calling for an urgent housebuilding programme of environmentally friendly social homes for rent.

“’That is the only way to tackle the housing crisis head on,” read a letter signed by a number of prospective Liberal Democrat councillor candidates in the Eden Valley.

Celia Tibble, the county council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “A lot of it is down to the district planning – we’re not sure yet what the implications will be at the county council level.”

Cllr James Airey, Leader of the Conservative group at the county council and representative for Ulverston West, said: “The proposals are meant to make it easier for house-building and, in particular, for affordable homes to be built

“Various housing schemes that haven’t come to fruition over the past decade have been thwarted by the current planning system – and these reforms are designed to simplify the situation.

“Of course, there will still need to be community support for these schemes to happen.

“As we move out of this Covid crisis, one of the ways the South Lakes can get its economy back on its feet is by building new houses and allowing new developments to go ahead. You can’t simply build affordable homes and not make any money out of the site.

“We need more social housing, but that’s another issue. There’s no reason why the current clause for social housing – which, for bigger SLDC projects, is at 35 per cent – can’t remain in place with these changes, going forward. It’s important that homes are built for the vitality of towns in the area.”

Pete McSweeney, the SLDC member for Arnside and Milnthorpe said: “It gives too much power to the developers in areas that are designated for ‘Growth or Renewal’. The idea that allocated sites are automatically given ‘development in principle’ will be alarming for many.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News