Mayfields Director and Shareholder, Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor is in hot water again for ostensibly trying to influence the government to back Mayfields’ proposals in Sussex.
Long standing accusations of the Peer’s conflict of interest have intensified with the publication of a new report, written by Lord Taylor, promoting Compulsory Purchase Orders as a means to building Garden Villages just like Mayfields. The Sun newspaper and political blog site, Guido Fawkes, went straight to the point with Guido Fawkes running the story under the heading: ‘Land Grab Lobbying LibDem’s Massive Conflict of Interest.’
Lord Taylor’s report titled ‘Garden Villages Empowering Localism to Solve the Housing Crisis’ was published by the influential Think Tank, Policy Exchange, which is said to be one of the Prime Minister’s favourite Think Tanks. It suggests that new local development corporations should be set up with the power to confiscate land with no more than a paltry compensation of just 150 per cent of agricultural value. The 38 page document then goes on to outline the benefits of building on ‘cheap’ rural land, freeing up money for infrastructure and amenities.
However, Lord Taylor fails to mention in his report that he is a paid Director of Mayfield Market Towns and has a personal financial interest in the developments he is advocating. He also fails to mention that in December the Government Inspector reported that “significant concerns have been raised about the sustainability of the location of the Mayfield Market Town site”. The Inspector also warned that “The deliverability of the preferred 10,000 dwelling option, with employment development, within two local authority areas without their support, and in the face of strong opposition from two local MPs, parish councils and local people, including land owners, is also an issue of concern.”
“It stinks more than the manure he wants to concrete over for profit,” was Arundel and South Downs MP, Nick Herbert’s response in the Sun newspaper. Mr Herbert went on to blog this explanation of Lord Taylor’s position:
“So unable to persuade two local authorities or the Planning Inspector to back his scheme, and unable to persuade all of the local landowners to agree to sell, Taylor falls back on trying to persuade the Government that compulsory purchase is the way forward. This is what he means by “empowering localism”.
In Parliament in December Mid Sussex MP, Sir Nicholas Soames questioned Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Communities and Local Government about the difficulties of coping with the high housing demands being made on rural Districts like Mid Sussex.
Mr Lewis replied by stressing the importance of local plans:
“It is important for local authorities and developers to ensure that the infrastructure is there to support housing development, and authorities will seek to do that as part of the planning process and, indeed, as part of their own local-plan process,” he said. “That is another example of how important it is for local authorities to have local plans in place.”
Both Mid Sussex and Horsham District Councils have expressed strong opposition to Mayfields’ proposals. Horsham’s District Plan is expected to be approved by the Inspectorate after some modifications this summer and the Mid Sussex Plan has just completed 8 weeks’ public consultation. Both councils have clearly stated that Mayfields’ proposals are not wanted and that this location is unsustainable and undeliverable for a catalogue of reasons.
Earlier this month when the Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Neighbourhood Plan went to referendum it was approved in a landslide ‘Yes’ vote of 92% in favour. This was despite an anonymous leaflet campaign urging people to vote against the plan – local people believe these leaflets were yet another example of Mayfields’ dirty tricks seeking to undermine local democracy.
“We all saw through it straight away, which boosted the ‘yes’ vote,” said one local resident. “making mistakes like this will just bury them in the end!”