South Holland and the Deepings MP vows Weston planning refusal draws a 'line in the sand'
A ‘line in the sand’ has now been drawn in the battle to stop the over development of our villages, according to the area’s MP.
Sir John Hayes says last week’s decision to reject 150 homes in Weston should be seen as a key moment – and act as a template for a tougher stance against unpopular housing plans.
The Weston development was proposed by Persimmon – and was narrowly voted down by South Holland District Council’s planning committee after a lengthy debate by councillors amid criticisms of the design and suitability.
Sir John said: “The welcome message sent out from the planning committee was that most councillors believe that houses should be well designed and fit for purpose. The application before the committee was neither of those things.
“I trust this will draw a line in the sand. In other words, from now on, no inadequate, inappropriate, unnecessary or unwelcome developments will get planning permission in our district.”
Sir John, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, has played a big role in shaping the Government’s thinking on planning as a member of Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission – and now sits on the Advisory Board to the housing ministry’s Office for Place.
The Weston development is an early test case of the impact of the Government’s changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, which was updated on July 20 this year.
That document states that “development that is not well designed should be refused, especially where it fails to reflect local design policies and government guidance on design”.
Sir John says planning officers must reflect this Government policy– and the weight of public opinion– when assessing proposals.
He spoke at the meeting against the Weston scheme – as did parish chairman Chris Dicks and ward member Anthony Casson.
After the meeting, Coun Casson said: “I am just pleased it was turned down and I hope that’s the end of it.”
Sir John added: “I am proud of Weston Parish Council, which stood up to be counted.
“When communities speak and say ‘this is not what we want for our place’ that has to be given really substantial weight in the system.”
He declared last week a ‘triumph’ for local democracy and hopes it can overturn the gloom in which many have felt powerless to halt developments in recent years.
He added: “There is a defeatism which, unfortunately, has set in with councillors and the public.”
Villagers and councillors now face a wait to hear whether Persimmon plans to appeal last week’s decision.
A spokesman for the company said: “We are currently reviewing the decision and considering the business options.”
However, the question of housing in Weston still persists – with plans now lodged by Ashwood Homes for 68 properties on the field off High Road directly next to the land Persimmon wanted to build on.