Please see below letter from Dr Steve Ellams, member of Menston Action Group and Special Projects Officer for WARD.
“Is it not time our elective representatives both local and national started to appreciate the disaster the relatively new National Planning Policy Framework is creating communities the length and breadth of the country introduced March 2012. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/nppf
There is not a day goes by that media coverage on some aspect or other of the NPPF fails to hit the headlines.
Take for example the village of Menston in West Yorkshire; after 3 years trying to stop non- sustainable developments on two sites in the village, flooding and drainage are the biggest problems to building. Their case has been aired in local and national papers and on local and national television. The village now has to prove (at great expense) to Bradford MDC that there is a substantial issue.
As Bradford MDC is now the statutory body dealing both with the issue of flooding and drainage and also granting planning permission, is it not a contradiction in terms that they stand to gain by possibly not accepting the evidence thus allowing the developments to go ahead. We know of other examples around the country where local councils have sat on their hands and allowed development to go ahead even when the development has been on a flood plain. As a further incentive add in the New House Bonus Scheme or the old style section 106 Agreements to build, it is little wonder so many planning decisions are being passed that would ordinarily not be the case.
The 56 pages of the NPPF like a great many documents produced in this day and age say one thing and do another. Why do we always want to” fix something that isn’t broke”? As developments get bigger the perceived threat to an established community grows. In the case of Menston village the tipping point is the reality that the population will increase by one fifth together with subsequent problems of infrastructure and congestion.The main resistance, however, stems from local knowledge of flooding and drainage issues which have been around for years. No amount of reassurance will help by adding 300 more houses.
Developers are now so powerful one wonders if they (and not the politicians) now run the country? The current government policy regarding building to escape the recession is very suspect and the old adage “is the tail wagging the dog” comes to mind?
As things stand nationally and locally it appears little can be done to stop determined developers and yet the propaganda machine still tries to accuse the communities of NIMBYism. On this basis the majority of the British population can be accused of the same.
The one thing the British public respects is fair play. Where is the fair play in a system where it is incumbent on the population with limited resources to take on the big boys who have vast amounts of finance? Hence the David and Goliath situation prevails?
The current situation in Menston is a perfect example.
Dr Steve Ellams
Projects manager Wharfedale & Airedale Reviews Development Group”