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    • Oliver Holmes
      Article: Aug 7, 2020
      By Oliver Holmes
      Big developers, major donors to the Tory party, have welcomed proposals to scrap the existing planning system in proposals which are being sold to the public as the solution to more housing for the young homeless. The new market oriented system closely follows the details provided in a paper by Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank secretly funded by corporate and private lobbying groups - and almost certainly including the big developers. A de-regulated zonal system will remove residents' rights to object and is yet another assault on local democracy.
      All the largest environmental and heritage groups are outraged and have pointed out that there is no evidence whatsoever to show these changes will improve housing supply. The Local Government Association points out that there are existing planning permissions for more than one million homes which have not even been started. The Minister introducing these changes, Robert Jenrick, owns a number of high-end properties that he has developed himself and is mired in what is known as the Westferry Scandal where, in granting a controversial application, he agreed he had acted unlawfully.
      Cllr. Oliver Holmes, who sits on the Ipswich BC Planning Committee, is very concerned at the loss of local democratic involvement and comments: "The real reason we have such an appalling record on building homes is the speculative building system controlled by the big developers and these proposals will only increase their power and control. No wonder they are delighted."
    • Boris Johnson demeans the office he holds
      Article: Aug 6, 2020

      Lib Dems say 'we don't need rhetoric' as thousands of planning applications are sitting there without a brick being laid.

      "Build, Build Build" says Johnson who dismisses opposition to planning reforms as "nimbyism"

      "Developers to be permitted to build on top of existing blocks of flats up to 5 storeys" says Baroness Jenny Randerson

      The Government have announced a planning 'revolution' that will force local authorities to allocate land for developments that will then not have to go through the full planning process. Under the new process, land will be designated in one of three zoning categories: 'for growth, for renewal or for protection'.

      In the first two categories there will be a new legal 'permission in principle' approach for new buildings, it is understood. Areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will come under the protection category where most new buildings will be automatically banned.

      The reforms will be published in a paper entitled Planning for the Future and follow an extension of permitted development rights announced earlier this summer.

      Critics including the RIBA, the Local Government Association and the charity Shelter have already said that the move would lead to poor-quality new houses being built in areas without adequate public services and would lessen democratic accountability.

      Reported in the Architects Journal, RIBA President Alan Jones said. 'deregulation would not deliver new homes and called for the government to 'urgently reconsider'.

      Baroness Jenny Randerson said: "I have spoken out in the Lords against Conservative Government regulations which will allow developers to build on top of existing blocks of flats up to 5 storeys. We had 5 Lib Dem speakers all fiercely opposed to this. This is going to be a major issue for local planning authorities".

      LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes said: "The prime minister has promised 'the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the Second World War'. Not again please. Will the Government wake up to the FACT that councils aren't the problem with getting homes built nor is the planning system?

      He added: "How many times do we have to say that councils approve nine in 10 applications? The Government conveniently forgets the thousands of planning applications that are sitting there without a brick being laid. Hundreds of thousands of homes lay unbuilt. We need powers to force developers to build these out. Don't demonise us and point the finger again at local government blaming us. We don't need rhetoric - we need partnership".

      Liberal Democrat MHCLG Spokesperson Tim Farron MP added:

      "The announcement to reform England's planning laws today reveals that once again Ministers are not serious about solving the housing crisis. It is not the lack of planning permission that prevents new, genuinely affordable, homes being built, but this Government's refusal to properly invest in social housing.
      "Rather than tinkering with planning laws, what Robert Jenrick should be doing is unveiling a huge housebuilding program of social homes for rent. We have already lost thousands of social rented homes as a result of the Government's permitted developed changes to date.

      "The Liberal Democrats want to see 100,000 new social homes to be built every year, as well as giving local authorities the ability to suspend the right to buy in their own areas, so that we can finally start tackling the crisis that's crippling the UK's housing market."

      LINKS:

      Lib Dem Lords speak out against planning changes Baroness Jenny Randerson ". A link to the speech can be found here:

      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-07-29/debates/04DC3EE5-E933-41CA-BD17-02795ADD6A24/TownAndCountryPlanning(FeesForApplicationsDeemedApplicationsRequestsAndSiteVisits)(England)(Amendment)Regulations2020#contribution-5A475532-D6FE-4BC5-B9BF-117E9EFBA0DD

      Architects Journal: Sweeping reforms will give new schemes 'automatic' planning permission 3 AUGUST, 2020 BY WILL HURST

      https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/sweeping-reforms-will-give-new-schemes-automatic-planning-permission/10047761.article

      A major planning overhaul in England will allow 'automatic' planning permission for new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices

    • Cllr Tim Hill
      Article: Aug 6, 2020

      Thursday 6th August is Cycle to Work Day, and this year's event has a new twist. With many people's circumstances changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cycle to Work Day organisers this year are encouraging people to ride anywhere, for any reason and with anyone, and Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are backing the initiative.

    • Lowestoft High Street Trevor King -Share Alike 2.0 Generic (Trevor King / Lowestoft High Street / CC BY-SA 2.0)
      Article: Aug 5, 2020

      North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone Design Guide Published

      In May 2019, Historic England launched a multi-million pound fund to revive historic English high streets through a High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme. Working with partners, 69 high streets across England were selected to receive a share of the £95 million fund to find new ways to unleash the potential of the historic environment, create economic growth, improve quality of life and champion and revive high streets. Lowestoft is one of seven towns in the east of England to benefit. Other towns include, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, North Walsham & Swaffham.

    • Article: Aug 5, 2020

      A complaint has been made about Ed Davey's campaign's conduct in its communication with members as to their voting intentions, specifically that they instructed canvassers not to disclose the identity of the campaign they were actually calling on behalf in calls made on the 11th and 14th of July 2020.

    • Article: Aug 5, 2020

      Throughout this terrible disease, people have not only faced heartbreaking loss of life, but also crushing anxiety over their livelihoods.

      Lockdown has been necessary to prevent an even greater catastrophe, but the economic shutdown has thrown millions of people into financial hardship.

      Liberal Democrats have been fighting to make sure people do not feel left behind as the country slowly recovers. We cannot allow this to create a new wave of inequality in Britain; the damage done to businesses and jobs falls harder on some than others.

    • MHC inDonmow
      Article: Aug 5, 2020
      By Melvin Caton

      At the meeting of the R4U led Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG) on the 29th July Uttlesford councillors discussed how the council planned to engage with the general public about the Local Plan (LP).

      I expressed concern that most of proposed communication channels were digital, requiring a degree of computer literacy. I said that paper based communications were also needed as part of an educational/awareness raising campaign. I proposed that the council should use village/community magazines as one of our vehicle of our communications.

    • Article: Aug 5, 2020
      By Layla Moran

      Like many young people and students in the early 2000s, I first joined the Liberal Democrats because of Charles Kennedy's brave stance on the invasion of Iraq.

      Charles played a courageous role in steadfastly opposing military intervention, putting both his and the party's reputation on the line. I joined a million others marching on the streets in protest, pleading with Blair's Government to change course.

    • Coronavirus graphic
      Article: Aug 4, 2020

      Following interim findings published last month, the Bedford Borough COVID-19 Deep Dive Final Report has now been published this report does not provide answers to some of the key questions about what has happened since the start of this crisis. Those questions would need a different sort of inquiry, this Report looks at transmission.

    • Cllr Jon Abbott
      Article: Aug 4, 2020

      The Chair of Bedford Borough Council's Planning Committee has warned that the Government's extension of 'Permitted Development' (PD) rights will further reduce local people's influence over their own communities and could lead to poorer quality, unpopular development taking place.

      The government introduced new legislation last week extending PD rights for certain kinds of development to take place without planning permission via the local planning authority. They include demolition of certain buildings and their replacement with housing, and upward extensions of up to two storeys on certain existing homes. Removing the requirement for planning permission for these developments will mean there is no opportunity for the views of local residents, parish councils and others to be considered before they can take place.