Haughton Green MP Andrew Gwynne has held an urgent Commons debate on new planning laws that have diminished the say that local residents have on the planning decisions that affect them and their community.
Mr Gwynne raised concerns that local residents have been locked out of the current Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Spatial Framework consultation process. A substantial number of infill sites have been identified in and around Haughton Green, but even Members of Parliament had not been adequately informed about the ‘public’ consultation.
Local concerns about the direction of planning in the village began with the demolition of the Old Rectory, for which the approval came in 2009. The rectory was a grand but quirky 19th century building built by the renowned architects James Medland and Henry Taylor. The site has still not seen any development.
Mr Gwynne objected to the demolition along with other local residents, who were concerned at the prospect of losing an architecturally important local building, and unsuccessful applications were made to grant emergency listing.
Further concerns were recently raised over the future use of the old Haughton Green Methodist chapel which dates from 1810. Planning rules only stipulate that as long as the building’s future use remains in the existing ‘use class’ D1, no new planning permission is required. That means that residents’ concerns on a range of issues, including exacerbating the pre-existing traffic problems in Haughton Green can not be considered.
During the debate, Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“Given the relaxation of planning rules and regulations, I fear this will become a growing problem across every constituency. Unless residents can buy into the planning system, unless their voice counts and unless their vision for their community matters, I fear that the disconnect between politicians and the public will just widen.
“That is why I urge the Minister to listen to the concerns of the people of Haughton Green. I will do my bit to ensure that their views, their voice and their concerns are raised at every appropriate level from local government right up to the Minister. If we believe in localism, we need to make sure that local people have a say in how their towns and villages develop in the future.”
The Local Government Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, said:
“I want to pay tribute to his clear and energetic campaigning on behalf of his residents. As we have seen here today, he is fully committed not just to urban regeneration but to ensuring that we see the right kind of environment and community for his residents—something we all want to see right across the country.”