East Cambs deputy leader Anna Bailey hit backs at criticism from housebuilders and insists they 'need to do their bit and get on and build'
PUBLISHED: 18:36 19 February 2019
The deputy leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council tonight criticised the Government inspector's suggested re-working of local plan as rendering it "unrecognisable" from the one they submitted.
Cllr Anna Bailey was speaking ahead of Thursday’s full council meeting that will consider tearing up two years work on future housing and development growth for East Cambs and reverting back to the 2015 plan.
In the process the council has attracted criticism from the Housebuilders’ Federation for undoing the work of recent years and also been attacked by an action group at Kennett fighting off the threat of 500 homes.
But Cllr Bailey believes many of the problems can be laid at the feet of housebuilders for their failure to deliver already agreed sites.
“Let’s be clear - the issue with the backlog of undelivered homes in East Cambs is not the fault of the authority,” she said.
“The district council has one of the most open, positive planning application processes going.
“This council has updated its local plan in 2009, again in 2015 and wanted to do so again in 2018/19.
“The vast majority of councils across the country cannot boast such a track record of investing time and resource into keeping its local plan up to date.”
Cllr Bailey said: “The problem is that the developers, housebuilders and landowners are not building the houses we have given them permission for, which is currently over 5,000.
“I would ask the Housebuilders’ Federation to encourage its members to get on and build the homes in East Cambridgeshire for which they have been given permission.”
“We cannot, and will not, accept modifications from an inspector that add 1,500 homes to the overall requirement with no justification and that arbitrarily increases the number of houses on certain site allocations that are untested and undeliverable (making us almost immediately open to challenge).”
She said communities are already taking large amounts of growth and if the inspector’s recommendations were accepted it would “rip up the community led development policy that is delivering truly affordable homes for local people to be able to afford to continue living in their own community”.
She said the community led development programme delivers sites that are built “sensitively to the needs and wants of communities with appropriate supporting infrastructure”.
Under the inspector’s revision the descriptions of individual villages and settlements and the requirement to build sensitively would be deleted as would the desire for higher accessibility standards for disabled people.
Cllr Bailey added: ““The modifications suggested to the new local plan would disempower our local communities and render the local plan unrecognisable from that submitted for examination.
“It would no longer be the district council’s plan but a plan imposed on our district by the inspector.
“We need more homes, including affordable homes and more employment opportunities but it is vital that such growth is quality growth, delivered with community involvement, in the right location and with the right supporting infrastructure.”
She said: “The developers need to do their bit and get on and build.”