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More Homes - but who decides - Lib Dems take Concerns to Westminster

November 7, 2014 12:00 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

How can Harborough actually deliver 638 houses a year?

Phil Knowles and Harborough PPC Zuffar Haq in Westminster today for meetings with Government Minister about housing numbers in the region and particularly South Leicestershire.

Cllr Phil Knowles and Harborough PPC Zuffar Haq in Westminster for meetings with Government Minister about housing numbers in the region and particularly South Leicestershire.

Pictured in Westminster with Phil and Zuffar ‎are local activists Annette Deacon, Peter Robotham and Peter James.

We have opened up a dialogue with Ministers - the public concern demanded it, we promised we would do it and we have delivered on the promise said Cllr Phil Knowles after returning from Westminster this week where he and Liberal Democrat colleagues met with a Government Minister raising a raft of issues and concerns on Planning Policy and the reality of delivering inflated numbers of new homes.

We all understand and accept the real and urgent need for homes but who is driving the planning policy that has to be delivered at the Local Level. Is it the local hands on delivery or the national aspiration - it's important that we have this clarified. We wanted the question answered - when it comes to planning decisions is it the 'Local Plan/Neighbourhood Plan' that is the key consideration factor? What weight does the 'Local Plan/Neighbourhood Plan carry at the various stages of formulation?

We were particularly keen to develop the discussion on the provision numbers in Harborough. The figure had been at 350 homes per annum, a figure we understand that has only been achieved/beaten three times in the last twelve or so years. When that figure was allegedly elevated by the powers that be in 'Westminster' to 638 homes per annum the community became increasingly concerned, the already creaking infrastructure came under the threat of yet more pressure and the Lib Dems quickly asked what is going on? We called for urgent meetings in Westminster as part of a joint delegation with the Conservatives so we could put Harborough's concerns and questions. Sadly the Conservatives on the District Council showed little or no sign of any interest in seeking such a meeting.

This matter is far too important to the future of the area and to each member of the community - now the residents can be assured the dialogue has been opened by the Lib Dems and we await the next steps. The Minister is in no doubt that the first thing we are seeking is the revisiting of the 638 homes figure - aspiration is one thing, adding of penalty percentages for alleged under delivery of homes over previous years another but we have to deal in reality and the figure needs to be looked at again. We await a response to our questions and concerns. We have taken this to Westminster to begin the dialogue, it is the start of a process and we intend to see the task through to completion''

Local resident Peter Rowbotham was amongst the delegation to Westminster and added 'this is not just about developers getting planning permission. It's up to developers to deliver these houses in accordance with a robust local plan and with the right infrastructure'