NEWMARKET’S HATCHFIELD CAMPAIGN GIVEN LIFELINE BY NEW GOVERNMENT.
JON LEES reporting for the Racing Post (30.05.2010)
"Eric Pickles has ministerial responsibility for housing.
Campaigners against Lord Derby’s controversial Hatchfields Farm housing development in Newmarket may have been thrown a lifeline by the intervention of government minister Eric Pickles before a crucial council vote on the planning application on Wednesday (02.06.2010).
Save Historic Newmarket Action Group member Justin Wadham said Pickles,
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, may have provided the ‘steer’ they have been expecting since the general election by confirming the intension to abolish the ‘regional spatial strategy’ adopted by the Labour
government under which the Hatchfield site was to supply up to 1,200 of the extra housing the local housing was expected to provide in the coming years.
In a letter sent on Thursday to all local authorities, Pickles said: “I am writing to you today to highlight our commitment in the coalition agreements, where we very clearly set out intension to rapidly abolish regional strategies and return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils.”
He said decisions on housing supply would ”rest with local planning authorities without the framework of regional numbers and plans”, adding “I will make a formal announcement on this matter soon”.
“However, I expect local planning authorities and the planning inspectorate
to have regard to this letter as a material planning consideration on any decisions they are currently taking.”
Property expert Roger Hepher, quoted in the Times, claimed that “nimbyism will run riot” as a result of an announcement, but Wadham hoped it had come in time to ensure Forest Heath District councillors do not vote through the Hatchfield plans when they meet on Wednesday. “We were waiting for a government ‘steer,’ He said.
This whole business of allocating house numbers according to a central government –dictated policy rather than devising your own policy in accordance with your local and regional needs is now out the window. That’s why we advocated a deferral.
“I just hope that it has come in time. Presumably, he has written the letter to make sure local authorities review their entire whole approach to matters. There is no housing need here. Newmarket is full of empty houses, and so is Red Lodge.
The council can’t feel that they are satisfying an actual housing demand. They only have to walk around Newmarket to see a surfeit of housing.”