Duncan referred to the recent cases of Chippenham’s Sainsbury’s planning application and car parking charges in the town and pressed home the point he made to ministers before Christmas, that Councils should help town centres realise their potential.
Duncan said, “The future of town centres lies not in rolling them back to the way they were decades ago, or even in maintaining them just the way they are today, but in giving them the freedom to redefine their role according to local strengths and opportunities, and then in ensuring that the public bodies in the local area co-operate with that ambition.”
Duncan also drew the attention of the House to the Pre-Submission Draft Core Strategy for Wiltshire which went before the Council Cabinet on the 17th January, explaining that the advice provided to councillors by Council officers was “simply wrong”. Guidelines stated that the pre-submission draft needs to be “in conformity with the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West unless new up-to-date evidence indicates otherwise.”
As far back as 2010, Duncan gained assurances from ministers that inspectors should now consider unadopted Regional Spatial Strategies as immaterial. During the debate, Duncan asked the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, for further reassurances in light of the guidance issued to Cabinet members.
Mr Shapps explained that: “I can therefore tell my hon. Friend that policies and proposals from the once-emerging regional spatial strategies should carry very little weight indeed in the minds of anybody involved in our planning system today.”
Duncan said: “The scale of development in the Chippenham area should meet the changing housing needs of local people, rather than the dated targets from the last government and should not instead aim to attract more people here from elsewhere.”
Click here for Duncan’s speech.
Click here for Duncan’s question to Housing Minister, Grant Shapps.