“We have A Problem – There Are No School Places Left”

During the Parliamentary debate on the National Planning Policy Framework, on  Thursday 26th April 2012, ,  Pudsey MP, Stuart Andrew, talked about the local situation.  Here is an extract:-

“I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate, Mr Deputy Speaker. Like many hon. Members, I am sure, I spent a good number of years as a councillor, and planning occupied most of my time. Much of that was because of the top-down approach, which local residents felt was always going against them and their communities. I sat on a planning committee and sometimes we felt powerless, so it was no wonder that our residents felt that way.

When I think of how my constituency has changed over the years, it is really quite staggering. The expanding population and the desirability of the location make it an attractive proposition, coupled with the fact that we have a lot of former factories and mill sites that have closed, and which now present us with a host of new brownfield sites. The old companies in Guiseley, Menston, Farsley and Pudsey have all gone and the sites have been turned into residential developments, which has put huge strain on local infrastructure. I remember as a councillor warning that we would run out of school places and being reassured by the education department that it was fine and that there were plenty, but lo and behold, three years later the department came and said, “Councillor, we’ve got a problem—we haven’t got any school places left.” Similarly, GP practices were struggling, but the greatest contention was caused by traffic. The number of new developments in the area resulted in congestion on our roads and the trains serving the constituency being absolutely packed at peak times.

All those factors contributed to local people’s resentment towards the planning system. Too many employment sites were lost to residential developments. In addition, the dreadful regional spatial strategy housing targets put real pressure on our communities. People felt powerless. They had no say in the future of their area, and they were baffled by the complex guidance put before them.”