COLUMN: Westwell of Ely

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

It has been reported that the government will be changing The National Planning Framework so that so-called ‘nimby councils’ that do not allow enough houses to be built in their district will be ‘stripped of their powers’.

Many councils are not rejecting developments because they do not want them in their ‘backyard’; there are often very good reasons for refusing planning.

I can remember a time when it was thought a great idea to build on flood plains.

The word ‘flood’ should have been enough to warn that the houses should never have been built there and would eventually be swamped with water.

I understand a ‘government’ is not a dictatorship. So, in this democracy, our government should stop making aggressive threats, or passing the buck and blaming others and get on with the job of managing the problem - even if it means doing the job itself.

If it wants many more houses built, it should get on with it and build them.

If it is arrogant enough to assume to know better than people who have lived in the area in question for years, it should be confident enough to look the problem in the eye.

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It should work out solutions and, in conjunction with the councils, plan and start building the homes that are needed - not just homes that will bring in developers and landowners pots of money.

If I understand correctly, £800m of unspent housing funds has had to be surrendered to the treasury.

How come? If the government was at all efficient this money would have been used to build the affordable houses needed.

It could have started with building flats that people could afford to buy or to rent and setting up convalescent homes where the so-called ‘bed-blockers’ have somewhere to go while they cannot cope on their own, but do not need the hospital facilities.

If it wanted to know where to build these, it could have easily sent out a call for people who have land to sell and taken it from there.

We are told that they cannot make the need for land public; it has to be a secret for the price will rise if people think the council wants their land.

If the owner asks too much, surely the council could always say ‘no’.

If our society is supposed to thrive on a competitive economy, surely competitive landowners would soon reduce the price if they see others accepting less and they might lose the sale altogether.

Finally, if the government is going to manage this problem well, it should also plan developments that include (not eradicate) green spaces, and arrange to have enough space for the residents to live happily and healthily.