Local people must be heard on Development

Please see below for my latest column in the Gazette and Herald (30 July 15)

Gazette and Herald Column Michelle DonelanDuring the election campaign and since becoming a Member of Parliament one of the key local issues people raise with me is development and house building. For decades, there have not been enough homes to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population and the issue needs to be addressed.

I was very fortunate to have been able to buy a home in Chippenham. Many of my friends and constituents have not been so fortunate. Put simply, we need to build more homes.

Having said that, I am a fervent supporter of local democracy, giving local people the final say in planning issues. We must do even more to ensure that local councils and residents are at the heart of the planning system and that the Local Plan will determine where development should and should not go, meaning that communities can have a forward-looking role in the development of their local area.

That is why I was shocked when the National Planning Inspector overturned the Council’s decision to refuse a planning application for 150 houses on grade II agricultural land north of Corsham. I wrote a strong letter to the Secretary of State for Communities supporting the Pickwick Residents Association’s objections and have met directly with the Planning Minister about this development. It appears that due to a technicality with planning regulations the community’s wishes may be ignored. I will continue to fight for local people against this development.

Shockingly, the same developer appears to be using a similar technicality to apply for planning permission for almost 100 houses around Holt – again against the community’s wishes. I would like to assure residents that I will do all in my power to ensure their views are listened to.

On Friday (31st July) I have another open surgery in Bradford on Avon from 4pm-5.30pm at The Swan Hotel. There is no need to make an appointment, please just come along. If you have a more complicated, or personal issue please do contact me office on 01249 477095 or email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk to make arrangements for a private meeting.