Wycombe MP highlights housing problems at Westminster debate

Steve Baker MP

Steve Baker MP

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

WYCOMBE MP Steve Baker has called for planning laws to be made simpler and for more affordable homes to be built for families and young people.

Mr Baker brought an adjournment debate to Westminster Hall on Wednesday about the public consent for local plans with regard to the Wycombe District Local Plan. Wycombe District Council is currently looking at the findings of a consultation on the plan, which will set out where best to accommodate homes, jobs and infrastructure in a sustainable way.

Mr Baker brought a number of issues to the debate in Westminster which have arisen from the plan.

He spoke about the scarcity of land in Wycombe for development and yet the acute need for homes for young people and families. He said more homes must be built, and built at reasonable prices with widespread public consent.

He said: "There is a real problem of despair among those who do not own homes, and there is also a clear need for public consent. We need to find a way forward because the current approach is failing for three key reasons.

"First, collaborative democracy is inherently unlikely ever to meet policy makers’ aspirations. Secondly, a duty to co-operate is not the right way to co-ordinate decision making and works against localism. Thirdly, the crux of the matter is that the current system leaves individuals and families facing the imposition of costs without adequate recompense."

There are four reserve sites in Wycombe which are highlighted in the consultation for proposed development- Abbey Barn north, Abbey Barn south, the Gomm valley and Terriers Farm He asked if the reserve sites could be designated as local green space and managed as for the green belt.

And he said out of the 3,800 local plan survey packs sent out by WDC, only 550 people replied.

He said the Government's green paper to make planning issues at the heart of the community is not working.

Mr Baker said: "In reality, the public either have too few incentives to get involved or have found that in practice the system excludes them from the involvement that they want: the power to avoid having costs imposed on them."

For example he said the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum wanted to have a say on the RAF Daws Hill and Wycombe Sports Centre sites, but the council ruled that neither of the two developments of interest to residents could be considered by the forum.

Mr Baker said there is a clear way forward: "In the short term, planning inspectors should accept local plans that meet the aims of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] by protecting designated land, even if that means not building the full quantities of homes identified as being objectively needed.

"This is necessary to establish public confidence in the democratic legitimacy of the system.

"In the longer term, policy should give real power to the public, which means the power to say no, combined with proper incentives to say yes, including due compensation, without the public having to acquiesce to costs imposed by other people, including the long-term costs of losing beautiful, highly valued land."

Comments (6)

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3:24pm Fri 11 Jul 14

jayeatman says...

I really don't follow this.
So he starts off calling for planning laws to be made simpler and for more affordable homes to be built and ends up saying 'planning inspectors should accept local plans that meet the aims of the...., even if that means not building the full quantities of homes identified as being objectively needed.
Huh?
Why not just say what you mean Steve?
'Leading up to the election, I need the NIMBYs' votes but after the election I want lots more houses but only in my constituency if the NIMBYs can be bought off.'
Actually I do follow this now.
I really don't follow this. So he starts off calling for planning laws to be made simpler and for more affordable homes to be built and ends up saying 'planning inspectors should accept local plans that meet the aims of the...., even if that means not building the full quantities of homes identified as being objectively needed. Huh? Why not just say what you mean Steve? 'Leading up to the election, I need the NIMBYs' votes but after the election I want lots more houses but only in my constituency if the NIMBYs can be bought off.' Actually I do follow this now. jayeatman
  • Score: 2

3:39pm Fri 11 Jul 14

jayeatman says...

There is a very important point being lost on our MP here: Why should those citizens who are lucky enough to own their homes be allowed to dictate whether those that don't be afforded the same privilege?
Because the in Steve Baker's world, the former tend to be richer, more powerful and vote Tory!
There is a very important point being lost on our MP here: Why should those citizens who are lucky enough to own their homes be allowed to dictate whether those that don't be afforded the same privilege? Because the in Steve Baker's world, the former tend to be richer, more powerful and vote Tory! jayeatman
  • Score: 2

5:26pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Kania 2000 says...

Teflon coat or not? Not really saying anything!
Teflon coat or not? Not really saying anything! Kania 2000
  • Score: 1

11:38pm Sat 12 Jul 14

DawesJack says...

Can anyone enlighten me on the merits of Terriers Farm?
Can anyone enlighten me on the merits of Terriers Farm? DawesJack
  • Score: 0

3:22am Mon 14 Jul 14

FLiszt says...

Mr Baker is reportedly missing the origin of this problem. If due to EU membership you cannot control your borders, then given immigrants like the rest of us need to live somewhere, you then create a housing shortage with all the knock-ons arising from that: in fact we need to be building 231 houses per day just to keep up. That's why we in UKIP advocate the Australian points system to control both the quality and quantity - but while we're in the EU that would be illegal as freedom of movement of people within EU countries is a non-negotiable principle of the EU.
Mr Baker is reportedly missing the origin of this problem. If due to EU membership you cannot control your borders, then given immigrants like the rest of us need to live somewhere, you then create a housing shortage with all the knock-ons arising from that: in fact we need to be building 231 houses per day just to keep up. That's why we in UKIP advocate the Australian points system to control both the quality and quantity - but while we're in the EU that would be illegal as freedom of movement of people within EU countries is a non-negotiable principle of the EU. FLiszt
  • Score: 1

3:31pm Fri 18 Jul 14

David Williams QC says...

Collaborative democracy is inherently unlikely to meet policy makers aspirations. Can anyone explain what this means? It sounds like Mr Baker is against the community having a say?

I think we are all agreed that more homes need to be built at a reasonable cost. The problem is how can that be achieved. Private developers are not in it for charity but to make a profit. The obvious solution would be for Councils to build. Their purpose would be to put people before profit and so low-rent local housing could be provided. Sadly that wont happen now. An alternative would be for WDC to spend the £18.5m it got from the sale of its housing stock on new social housing - as it said it would. Instead it is being spent on a sports centre and offices at Handy Cross.
If we want low cost and social housing only the public sector can and will put people and community first.
Collaborative democracy is inherently unlikely to meet policy makers aspirations. Can anyone explain what this means? It sounds like Mr Baker is against the community having a say? I think we are all agreed that more homes need to be built at a reasonable cost. The problem is how can that be achieved. Private developers are not in it for charity but to make a profit. The obvious solution would be for Councils to build. Their purpose would be to put people before profit and so low-rent local housing could be provided. Sadly that wont happen now. An alternative would be for WDC to spend the £18.5m it got from the sale of its housing stock on new social housing - as it said it would. Instead it is being spent on a sports centre and offices at Handy Cross. If we want low cost and social housing only the public sector can and will put people and community first. David Williams QC
  • Score: 0

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