Friday, 23 March 2018

I do not support the proposals for planning and housing in "New Frontiers"

This coming Wednesday, amongst other things, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet will be discussing a document entitled “New Frontiers.”

The associated blurb in the report adds that it is a proposition from the Cornwall Leadership Board (which brings together people from across the public sector) and states it is a “proposition to Government that builds on the Cornwall Deal and increases our economic, environmental and social resilience.”

It would be churlish to say that there is not some reasonable stuff in the document, but there is also much content with which I fundamentally disagree.

It is often referred to as “Devo 2” – but there is no proposal for meaningful devolution, as in Wales and Scotland, proposed within its pages. It seems to be about “asks,” “offers” and “policy enablers.”

“New Frontiers” was discussed at a Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, and I had quite a few things to say.

I raised concerns about democratic legitimacy of the proposals and how the democratically-elected councillors had had little opportunity to be involved with the formulation of what had been drafted.

I queried why there was not one single reference to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, for example, but focused most of my feedback on matters relating to planning and housing.

The document does not seek the devolution of planning matters but offers to build houses at a faster rate than set out in the Cornwall Local Plan and seeks financial support for developments such as the so-called eco-town / eco-village / garden village near Penwithick – which, as most people will be aware, I opposed for a decade!

The document also seeks the ability to build new settlements in the future.

Those people at the meeting were left under no illusion about my views on the planning aspects of the document – and that it most certainly does not have my support.

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