The massive building over of Kent is a government-driven plan. The Conservatives changed the planning rules in 2012 to favour large scale development on green-field sites. As part of building a “big society”, the Conservatives (somewhat ironically) pledged in their 2010 manifesto “to give neighbourhoods greater control over the planning system”. They then effectively overturned this pledge by allowing the new planning rules to be written by the developers. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) of 2012 set out “to boost significantly the supply of housing”. The document commissioned by the Mayor of London will be used by the developers to push for more housing and by the councils to allow more housing. London is overcrowded. The central authorities will decide where the overspill is to be housed, and as the chief executive in Canterbury has so candidly pointed out, under the present planning rules, overdevelopment of this part of it is inevitable.
The history of the planning rules in the last two years has been an unhappy one: developers have challenged local authorities in the high court (and court of appeal) and have won. They have done so by showing that the numbers of houses needed is not adequately reflected in the local plans. Local opposition is in effect swept aside by courts who are bound to follow the provisions of the NPPF. In Ukip we are determined to reform the planning rules to prevent building on green field sites, and to take away the power of the developers to enforce the Conservative plans. All our city and district council candidates are determined to confine the building of new estates to brownfield sites. All over the Home Counties, Conservative MPs will be keen to appear supportive of local people by handing in petitions against new developments and draft local plans.
But in each case they will be doing so with the utmost hypocrisy in the knowledge that they are wholly impotent to affect the house building programme while this government retains power. The only time that they could have had an effect was when these matters were in parliament. That time has now passed. We are now facing a government steamroller.
Piers Wauchope, UKIP North Thanet and Herne Bay
Chilston Road, Tunbridge Wells
Herne Bay Gazette, March 19th 2015