I asked a question of the Labour-run Bolton Council at last night’s Full Council meeting, enquiring about what interim measures we could put in place to combat speculative applications to develop on our Green Belt. Here is the question in full.
The timetable for implementing the Spatial Framework (or the Spatial Strategy, or whatever name it ends up having by the time it actually arrives) is continually being put back and put back. In the mean time, developers continue to file application after application to build massive housing projects on our precious Green Belt. The Independent Planning Inspectorate keeps letting these applications through after our Planning Committee has turned them down; and they get through the Inspectorate on appeal because we “can’t demonstrate a robust five-year housing plan”.
Does the Executive Cabinet Member agree with me that we are now long past the point where we can comfortably argue that the Spatial Framework is “coming soon” when we are dealing with these planning appeals, and therefore we must create our own Bolton Housing Plan to cover the interim period? This will protect our Green Belt until the Spatial Framework (or whatever it ends up being called) finally arrives?
Suffice to say I wasn’t happy with the response from Labour that we apparently can’t have our own Bolton Plan to cover the time from now until the Spatial Framework (or whatever it ends up being called) coming in. I was told it wasn’t possible under the law for Bolton to have its own plan; and I don’t believe that’s the correct interpretation of the law.
Rest assured that I won’t be letting this issue drop. Planing is a huge concern in Westhoughton and we need a stronger approach to combatting the ruthless overdevelopment we have been under siege from in our town.