Wednesday, 13 January 2021

PLEASE RESPOND TO LATEST GOVERNMENT PLANNING CONSULTATION


On a number of occasions, I have written about the UK Government’s plans to dismantle the existing planning system, as set out in their White Paper titled “Planning for the Future.” I recently reported that the Planning Minister had back-tracked on the worst excesses of its new top-down “standard method” for housing targets, which would have imposed over 81,000 new properties on Cornwall over the next twenty years.

But I continue to maintain that the proposed changes would nonetheless be a disaster for Cornwall, and I have been somewhat taken aback that the UK Government is consulting on yet another change to planning. I would describe this latest proposal as frankly bonkers.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure,” and proposes allowing commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to simply change to residential use with little or no regulation.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” Unbelievably, it also states that there would be “no size limit on the buildings” that could benefit from the right.

Planning professionals are already raising concerns that the commercial heart of towns and cities could be undermined by the reforms but, ridiculously, the proposed changes would even allow very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent.

Developers would also be allowed to turn sizeable buildings into a large number of residential properties, without providing any local-needs housing or making any contributions for education provision or infrastructure.

In addition, it would mean that local planning authorities, such as Cornwall’s unitary authority, would be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

If you share my concerns about this ill-prepared, ill-considered and totally inappropriate proposal, please respond to the consultation. A link to the consultation can be found on my blog at: mebyonkernow.blogspot.com.

Please also contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose the ongoing deregulation of the planning system.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that central government is pretty clueless on planning matters and does not comprehend what is appropriate for Cornish communities. We really do need to bring people together in a massive campaign to demand that all decisions on planning policy which affect Cornwall are taken in Cornwall.

[This is my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

Friday, 8 January 2021

MEBYON KERNOW IS OPPOSING LATEST PLANNING CHANGES


The UK Government is consulting on proposed changes to the planning system, which would allow commercial and industrial premises to be changed into housing without the need for planning permission.

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has described the proposed changes as “bonkers” and is calling on the residents of Cornwall to respond to a government consultation which closes on 28th January.

The consultation is titled “Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure.”

It seeks to create a new “permitted development right” that would allow “shops, offices, light industrial, restaurants, gyms, medical facilities and nurseries” to change to residential use without the need for planning permission.

The consultation document states that the proposed new “right” would apply “everywhere … not just on the high street or in town centres.” It also states that there is “no size limit on the buildings that can benefit from the right.”

In a statement issued today, I stated the following:

“The proposed planning changes are ill-prepared and inappropriate – bonkers even!

“For example, the changes as presently proposed would allow some very large buildings on strategic industrial estates to become housing without the need for a traditional planning consent. Important employment space would be lost.

“Sizeable buildings could also be turned into a large number of residential properties, without providing any affordable housing or making contributions for educational provision or infrastructure.

“Local planning authorities would further be powerless to stop buildings in inappropriate and unsustainable locations becoming residential properties.

“Please respond to the consultation and please contact your local MP to challenge them to oppose these ill-considered changes.”

The link to this consultation is as below:

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

70th ANNIVERSARY FOR MEBYON KERNOW


Today marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall. As the present leader of MK, I would like to mark the occasion by writing about the earliest days of the organisation.

The inaugural meeting took place at the Oates Temperance Hotel in Redruth on Saturday 6th January 1951. There were thirteen people present and a further six sent apologies. Among the founder members, there were four future Grand Bards of Gorsedh Kernow (Ernest George Retallack Hooper, Ann Trevenen Jenkin, Richard Garfield Jenkin and George Pawley White) and Charles Thomas, who went on to become the Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter.

Helena Charles was elected MK’s first leader. A remarkable woman, she had been born in Calcutta of Cornish parents and spent much of her life in voluntary work. She had worked in the slums of Bermondsey in the 1930s, she served with the London Ambulance Service during the Second Word War and she was well-known for her selfless work on behalf of Jewish refugees during the war and in the immediate post-war period. She served on Camborne-Redruth Urban District Council and, following a trip to Venice in 1964, she founded a charity to care for the large number of stray cats in the Italian city.

This formal launch of Mebyon Kernow followed the 1950 International Celtic Congress, held in Truro, which brought together many like-minded people from the various Celtic nations, and proved to be the catalyst that forged a new movement.

In MK’s original aims, there was a strong focus on Cornish identity and culture, and the need to “further the acceptance of the idea of the Celtic character of Cornwall, one of the six Celtic nations.” But it was also openly political with a commitment to “study local conditions and attempt to remedy any that may be prejudicial to the best interests of Cornwall” while, by September 1951, it was pushing Cornwall’s “right to self-government in domestic affairs in a federated United Kingdom.”

Mebyon Kernow certainly launched a wide range of initiatives in its earliest years. These included campaigns for a Cornish Assembly, a Cornish University and a Cornish Industrial Board or Development Agency; support for traditional Cornish industries and opposition to railway closures. But it was essentially a pressure group, which meant that activists in other political parties could also be members of MK. Such members included Conservative MP David Mudd and Liberal MPs Peter Bessell and John Pardoe.

Mebyon Kernow continues to campaign for Cornwall, and I am most grateful to those foresighted individuals who, seven decades ago, decided a Cornish political organisation was needed.