12th October 2020

I have long campaigned for reform to our planning system, which I have long believed is broken. 

For too long our planning system has become not about high quality long term local ‘planning’ - but about the imposition from London of house-building targets on localities without appropriate infrastructure. 

I deeply believe we need to give local councils and communities much more local control and greater freedoms and incentives to plan and build better: reducing avoidable and wasteful commuting by car, better public transport links, more recreational facilities for children, using more local design codes, and supporting the vibrant villages and thriving towns that are the backbone of Norfolk. 

After the Labour Government of 2005-2010 imposed House Targets on each area, I supported the Conservative Government’s approach in 2010 of “localism”:  allowing local councils to make their own plans and keep more of the proceeds of growth, as long as they didn’t reject all growth and complied with the 5 year land supply rule to build at the rate their area needed.  

But the Crash of 2008, the crisis in the public finances and council budgets and the ability of developers to “land bank” meant that in reality councils had very little power and the 5 year land supply allowed developers like Gladman to ride roughshod over local councils.  As we have seen here in mid Norfolk.   

So I support the Government’s decision to Reform the Planning system.  

The latest white paper has some good reforms in it. 

BUT the formula used to allocate housing numbers is bizarre, completely undeliverable and would have hugely damaging impacts on our area because.

1. It disproportionately focuses new housing in rural greenfield not brownfield sites 

2.  Rural areas like Mjd Norfolk get massive housebuilding rises while cities like Norwich get less

3. The reform centralises the Infrastructure Levy and allows for infrastructure to be built AFTER development with huge added pressures on local faculties 

4. In Norfolk, the Greater Norwich area would have to build 40,000 extra houses: that’s the equivalent of building a town the size of Diss. Every year. For 20 years.  

5. The rate of building is 50% higher than the highest rate of building in the last 20 years - under Gordon Brown.   

This formula is wholly unrealistic. 

So whilst there is much to be applauded in the White Paper, I am working with our local councils and councillors, fellow MPs and Ministers to get this formula changed. 


To hear my views in full, please watch the video below.

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