‘Tories across Northumberland more interested in ‘politics’ than tackling county wide housing shortage
Labour reveals the ‘silent Tories’ who agreed to new Development Plan
Northumberland County Council’s newly created Local Development Framework was created by a ‘cross party committee’ which included three Conservative councillors which has led to accusations that Conservative attacks on the new plan to build thousands of new homes across the county was ‘driven by the need to score cheap political points’ rather than issues about greenbelt development. Labour also pointed to a succession of statements from Conservative ministers who are advocating that council’s ‘have a moral duty to build homes’ after local Tories led by Hexham MP Guy Opperman attacked the county’s new development framework.
Labour have revealed that the Local Development Framework committee included Councillor Colin Horncastle and Councillor Ian Hutchinson from the west of the county and Councillor Richard Dodd who did not raise any concerns in the committee. Labour are now demanding an answer why no concerns were raised after Northumberland’s Conservatives attacked the draft consultation framework? The framework is tasked to create the conditions to allow the county council to build at least 2000 affordable homes over the next 4 years.
Councillor Scott Dickinson, the Business Chair of the council said
‘Local Conservatives sat on the committee which oversaw the development of our plan to build new affordable homes and create hundreds of good quality construction jobs yet said nothing about their ‘concerns’. The Tories need to answer the charge that ‘they’re playing politics with the greenbelt’ because, first we had Conservative ministers lining up urging council’s to use greenbelt spaces, and now we’ve got three ‘invisible Conservative councillors’ who didn’t raise any concerns about the development framework. Residents will presume that the Conservative party is against a Development Framework which will protect 91% of existing green belt land. The unfortunate conclusion is Northumberland Conservatives would rather ‘spin headlines’ than build affordable homes’.
Notes to Editor
Conservative Councillors who sat on Local Development Framework working group can be found
• The housing needs assessment has identified the authority needs to add nearly 2000 (1910) homes to its stock to keep pace and this will mean 380 homes are required in the North of the County, 860 in the more urban South East and 670 in the West of the county in Conservative MP Guy Opperman’s Hexham constituency.
• The first tranche of 313 new developments which are primarily council owned have confirmed funding and another 354 properties built by Housing Associations will form a first wave with building expected to commence within 8 months.
Quotes from Conservative ministers on green belt development
‘Mr Osborne said he wanted local authorities to do more "land swaps" under which they can allow building in the Green Belt around towns and cities if an equivalent area of land elsewhere is safeguarded. ‘Independent 3 Sept 2012’
In comments that will concern home owners living in the countryside, Baroness Hanham, a community’s minister, described the green belt as only “virtually sacrosanct”.
Lady Hanham said that the Government believes that affordable homes will now have to be built on green belt land.
She said that some of the land is not “absolutely brilliant” and should be used for developments in order to avoid having to build in “real open space”. Daily Telegraph 9th Oct 2013
In some cases planning inspectors have ordered local authorities to redraw their Green Belt boundaries for failing to meet building requirements set out in the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced last year to make development easier.
Ministers promised the changes to the planning system would increase the protection offered to the Green Belt.
However, analysis by The Telegraph has found that large areas of land are to be removed from the designation to provide space for more than 95,000 homes under proposals that have been made public by councils.
Several local authorities that control sizeable areas of Green Belt land are still to finish reviews of where they intend to allow development and are expected to allow further building on protected land. Telegraph 3 Oct 2013
Nick Boles will dramatically raise the stakes over the housing crisis, saying the Government has a ‘moral’ duty to force councils to find land for development to defend Margaret Thatcher’s dream of a ‘property owning democracy’. And he has warned grandparents who oppose new housebuilding risk 'propping up their kids and their grandkids' who cannot afford to buy their home own. He has unveiled plans to bribe local communities with hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash to accept new house building. Daily Mail 10 January 2013
Local Development Framework Working Group
2:3:1:2 (two Labour places to Independent, one informal co-optee)
Formed: 1 Apr 2009
Member Details Name Position
P Kelly (Indep. Group) (Chair)
CW Horncastle (Con) (Vice-Chair)
RR Dodd (Con)
MI Douglas (Lab)
JJ Gobin (Lab)
JR Riddle (Con)
JA Taylor (Indep. Group)
RJD Watkin (Lib Dem)
I Hutchinson (Con) (Co-opted Member)
A Hepple (Lab) (Ex Officio)