We’ve reached 27 March and despite lobbying from concerned residents across the country, it was deemed unnecessary to extend the deadline for the final implementation of the NPPF.
To have extended the deadline would have been a sign of a strong government. A government which listens to the people. A government which realises that planning rules were rushed through. A government which is keen for the electorate to see democracy enshrined in every fiber of its being.
Instead of that, in those districts where there is no Local Plan in place, we have top-down governance over-riding the wishes of council members and the wider electorate. Landowners and developers can hardly contain their glee. The Government had the opportunity to put this right. One simple decision to grant an extension on the year’s grace before the NPPF was unleashed on the country and they chose not to make that decision. This will not be forgotten. Those of us who live in the Tory heartlands will remember how we were failed.
We in Feniton, East Devon, are living the reality of the Government’s intransigence and its inability to see reason. East Devon does not have its Local Plan in place and it cannot demonstrate a 5-year land supply. So from today, the NPPF has to be followed, which in East Devon effectively places planning decisions in the hands of landowners and developers. And this is under a Conservative Government.
But it’s actually more interesting than that.
Our former Conservative District Councillor, Graham Brown, decided to resign following revelations in the Daily Telegraph, and EDDC has referred him to the police under the Bribery Act. Extraordinary … Feniton is in the eye of the storm.
But it becomes even more interesting.
Next Tuesday, April 2, two planning applications are to be heard by the planning committee at EDDC. There have been calls for these applications to be put on hold (not least by our MP, Neil Parish) until such time as the police investigation is complete. Wouldn’t that be the sensible thing to do? Take a calm approach. There is no evidence (as far as I know) that ex-Councillor Brown has done anything wrong, but it was still deemed appropriate to inform the police. If these applications are heard next week, EDDC will be sending a very loud signal that any (alleged) inappropriate activity is to be condoned.
We are descending into chaos.