“Grotesque and wholly unwanted… unhelpful and so destructive… undermining Localism… a thoroughly bad scheme”- MP for Mid Sussex, Nicholas Soames was unapologetic and emphatic in his condemnation of Mayfield Market Town’s “unsustainable” plans for a new town.
Opening the debate on the proposal at Westminster Hall today (Dec 3) Mr Soames appealed to the Minister for Housing to ensure that unsupported plans like those put forward by Mayfield should not be allowed. He said that “Even the most zealous supporter of the scheme could not call it sustainable.”
Mr Soames had called the debate jointly with MP for Arundel and South Downs, Nick Herbert, who pointed out that Mayfield had blighted the area and was now having a marked effect on local house prices.
Mr Herbert went on to condemn Mayfield’s behaviour for “setting out to undermine and interfere with the planning process” which was “deeply unhelpful.”
The Minister for Planning was unable to attend, but sent Chris Hopkins, Minister for Housing, to answer the debate. Mr Hopkins re-iterated the government’s commitment to the NPPF and gave a reassurance that local councils did have power to make the decisions over planning issues, through their local plans.
“I don’t want to see any more green fields used than necessary,” he said, “Local plans are at the heart of the system… not top down.”
You can see a transcript of the full debate on Hansard – 3rd Dec 2013, 11 am, Column 209WH, Mayfields New Town.
BBC report on debate here:BBC News
For debate reaction interviews with Mr Herbert, Mr Soames and Anthony Watts Williams from LAMBS:
Interview with Nicholas Soames MP.
Interview with Nick Herbert MP.
Interview with Anthony Watts Williams of LAMBS.