Election influencing local decision making? Green Belt area in Flood Zone still a likely development site!

Is Castle Point’s draft New Local Plan, with its controversial proposal to develop in Green Belt and Flood Risk areas, under influence from next year’s elections?

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign blog posted, yesterday, an article that offered those with some degree of local influence an opportunity to explain how the control of the Local Plan process could be re-balanced so that councillors, collectively, would be able to make changes to the draft Plan.

Little was made of this opportunity by local councillors.

Cllr Hart selected one single question to respond to;

“Have councillors any substantiated reasons to believe the Local Plan will, and can, be changed?”

To which he commented;

“The answer to your final question in my opinion is YES.”

Meanwhile cllr Dick tweeted;

“Yes it is now time for Cllrs to control local plan agenda. Members need to follow residents lead not officers.”

Expressions of opinion, but no different to what has been expressed since CPBC voted to approve the Local Plan consultation.

Meanwhile the Plan advances with no change to the policies nor even textural amendments!

The direct link to our original post is here.

Someone who  is convinced that the Elections are influencing policy is the Chairman of Redrow.

In a report issued by the Financial Times the Chairman of housebuilder Redrow considered the current pre-election political situation was delaying new development;

“Anything even slightly controversial is getting stuck in a no-man’s-land in terms of decision making,” he said, adding that he felt local councillors’ reluctance to approve new housing developments was “politically motivated.”

The ft.com, on 10th November 2014, posted

Redrow criticises planning delays

Claer Barrett

The chairman of housebuilder Redrow has cautioned that “political posturing” before next year’s general election was having a “detrimental impact” on the time taken to grant planning permissions for new housing developments.

Updating the market on trading for the past 19 weeks, Steve Morgan said that “more normal” levels of activity had returned to the UK property market after the introduction of the government’s Help to Buy stimulus last year, which drove “abnormally high” sales rates.

However, he expressed his frustration about the speed of converting the FTSE 250 builder’s total land bank of nearly 17,000 plots into new homes.

“Whilst the planning system at a strategic level has improved over recent years, obtaining detailed consents and clearing countless unnecessary conditions remains a significant constraint on new outlet openings and growth,” Mr Morgan said, blaming “political posturing” ahead of next year’s general election.

“Anything even slightly controversial is getting stuck in a no-man’s-land in terms of decision making,” he said, adding that he felt local councillors’ reluctance to approve new housing developments was “politically motivated”.

Redrow is currently on-site with 104 developments across the UK, with a further 40 awaiting a planning decision. Mr Morgan said: “With the amount of land we’ve bought, we should be building on 125 to 130 sites at this stage. It is taking between nine and 18 months to get from obtaining the principle of development to being able to implement it, with most [applications] loaded towards 18 months.”

London’s prime property market has been hit by fears over a “mansion tax” on homes worth more than £2m proposed by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

However, Redrow’s average private selling price was a more modest £284,000 on reservations made in the year-to-date – just 4 per cent higher than the same point a year ago, which the company said was due to “limited house price inflation” and changes in the geographical sales mix.

Redrow’s total private order book has increased in value by 10 per cent year-on-year to £465m, but within this figure, its regional order book has risen 25 per cent.

In London, the company said its developments on release were “almost fully sold out”, with private reservations running at around a quarter of last year’s level “due to the timing of the launch of new developments”.

“[The trend] this quarter and also likely for the whole half year will be that London is unlikely to contribute much to sales simply because almost everything is already sold and is just working for physical completion,” said Robin Hardy, housebuilding analyst at Shore Capital.

By midday in London, shares in Redrow were down nearly 3 per cent at 267p.

Last week, fellow builders Bovis and Galliford Try both reported a similar dip in sales over the past four months as the Help to Buy effect faded, with Bovis flagging that a 5 per cent rise in average prices would offset increasing labour costs in the construction sector.

Mr Morgan added that Redrow had not experienced a similar rise in costs, adding “That horse bolted a long time ago. When the housing market started picking up 18 months ago that manifested itself in increased labour and materials costs, but that’s well and truly moderated now.”



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