"Conservative Councillors sit on the fence again as Government plans to concrete over Cornwall and slash affordable housing

Tory councillors in Cornwall have been condemned by local Liberal Democrats for sitting on the fence over the motion to stop a ‘developers’ charter’ at today’s full Council meeting.  

Liberal Democrats and their Mebyon Kernow and Independent colleagues on Cornwall Council put forward a motion which was passed by full Council opposing the Tory Government’s plans to stop local people making decisions on their local planning.  

The motion gave Tory councillors on Cornwall Council the opportunity to voice their concerns to their chiefs in Westminster. However, Conservative councillors chose to sit on the fence and dodged their democratic responsibilities by abstaining. 

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, recently announced planning laws that take local people and their council representatives out of the planning process in Cornwall. 

Malcolm Brown, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cornwall Council proposed a motion opposing the ‘developer’s charter’ which was debated and passed at today’s (22nd September 2020) full Council meeting. 

The Tory Government’s plans have been concocted by spin doctor Dominic Cummings to reduce local say on inappropriate development. Robert Jenrick said that local people would not be able to block developments in designated growth zones. 

The plans give the upcountry Planning Inspectorate more power over building developments in Cornwall, and would limit Cornwall’s ability to refuse planning applications. The bill will also relax requirements to publicise planning applications, reducing local people’s say in planning decisions. 

The Royal Institute for British Architects has called the proposals “shameful” and added they “will do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well designed and sustainable homes”. The RIBA has also said that the proposals could lead to the next generation of slum housing. 

Malcolm Brown, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said:  

"I’ve brought this motion condemning the Tory’s plans to concrete over Cornwall to full Council so that it can be debated democratically. This motion has given councillors the opportunity to oppose top-down planning legislation from Westminster bureaucrats and put it back into the hands of local people and their representatives. 

I have been a member of Planning Committees in Cornwall since the 1990s and a large part of my casework has always been about planning. I have seen countless examples of how London has imposed planning decisions and policies on Cornwall that have been bad and highly damaging. I also feel that the Conservative Party are far too close to the big housebuilders who care about profits not building communities. The people of Cornwall should be frightened about how this dictatorial government is acting. 

“It is shocking but not surprising that Tories on Cornwall Council have refused to support this motion. This is just another example of just how out of touch the Tories in Cornwall and in Westminster are”. 

Chris Batters, Liberal Democrat Chair of Cornwall Council’s East Sub-Area Planning Committee said: 

“The Tories have given developers free rein to build hundreds of unaffordable homes across Cornwall. The Government seems intent on forcing through more deregulation, which takes local decision making out of the planning process altogether. The Council will have no say about what is built or where, while the only true beneficiaries will be the major house builders and their ever-increasing profits.  

I’m deeply disappointed that many Conservative councillors have chosen not to oppose top down London planning and development and that they have evaded their responsibility to their communities by abstaining from the vote. 

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