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Stunell exposes failure in Government Planning Policy

June 23, 2006 2:21 PM

Andrew speaking in CommonsSpeaking in Parliament this week, Hazel Grove MP, Andrew Stunell called for a Government rethink on planning laws to allow local authorities to respond to the needs of their local communities.

Stockport Council had 13,000 council homes but over 6,000 families on its waiting list, he told MPs, and would welcome powers to tackle the problem. The issue was that planning policy restricts local authorities from responding to the individual needs of their communities.

Stockport Council had been creative in finding a solution to another widespread problem, planning applications for housing on back garden sites. Mr Stunell told Parliament:

"The infilling and backfilling of larger gardens has been an increasing problem over the years in many areas including my Hazel Grove constituency."

Mr Stunell explained that Liberal Democrat Stockport Council has had success in blocking unwanted schemes, using national planning rules. But those rules also meant that developments in the north of the Borough had to be refused as well.

"The Secretary of State's guidelines are too rigid. Even in one local authority planning area there can be fundamentally different circumstances, which must be dealt with by means of more flexible local policies."

Commenting after the debate Mr Stunell said

"Current policy ignores the needs of local residents and this has to change. I am calling on the Secretary of State to revise the current guidelines and to allow local authorities greater flexibility to respond to the unique circumstances of the areas that they serve."

Local Government Minister Yvette Cooper, responding to the debate promised to take a fresh look at the guidelines.