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2015 April: Parliamentary Candidate Statements May 2015
Bill Cash (Conservative)
Many thanks for your letter – as you know, not only have I been “involved” as your Community Brief about my role states, but I have vigorously and positively supported Cheadle Unite continuously on an ongoing basis in opposing inappropriate housing development in and around Cheadle. For constituents affected by speculative housing applications in Cheadle, I have consistently objected to all such proposals on your behalf and will continue to do so, whatever Staffordshire Moorlands District Council planning policy may be.
I have previously and successfully backed residents in opposing Mobberley Farm housing plans in 2001 and again in 2009, the housing proposals for Cheadle in 2010, 70 houses at Cheadle Road, Upper Tean in 2014, 190 proposed houses on land off Thorley Drive in Ashbourne Road in 2015.
In support of Cheadle Unite, I have been at the forefront of addressing the disproportionate amount of housing allocated to Cheadle, given the town’s limited capacity to expand, which is particularly relevant while the regeneration of the potteries is struggling with huge numbers of sites lying derelict around existing proven infrastructure with roads, rail and drainage etc. I will continue to campaign for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to consult properly with Cheadle residents and for them to effectively engage with the Potteries towns on an effective strategy for our region. This relates to my serious objective for the regeneration of a very significant number of brownfield sites around the neighbouring City of Stoke-on-Trent and large areas of the potteries, including all the brownfield sites which you have identified.
I agree with and have supported Cheadle Unite consistently on all this because in the potteries, there are boarded-up wasteland sites where good, affordable and quality family-sized housing can be built for a proven hard working community with sustainable nearby work opportunities. There is not the road infrastructure or capacity in Cheadle to handle significant new development. With the group, I have supplied substantial evidence to the Government and to the Council and will continue to apply pressure to protect Cheadle and insist on regeneration of the potteries as a priority. This succeeded in the case of Thorley Drive.
While it is the job of the Council to demonstrate they have a five year housing land supply, I will campaign to ensure that this is achieved – the National Planning Policy Framework itself requires local planning authorities to identify and keep up-to-date that supply. I have advocated Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans, which enable Cheadle Unite with the local community and its elected councillors to set the planning policies for their area, which is vital. In order to do this, I will continue to work with Cheadle Unite to ensure the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans are up-to-date and meet the housing and development needs for Cheadle.
I believe that Neighbourhood Plans, where in consultation with the residents are devised, greatly increase the opportunity for successful arguments which can then be the basis for my seeking the Secretary of State to call in housing and other proposals, as I have done successfully elsewhere in the constituency.
The Labour Party candidate for Stone, Sam Hale, asserts in his literature that decisions made by local councils can be “overturned by planning inspectorate officers working for Eric Pickles”. He is wrong. The Planning Inspectorate as an executive agency is distinct and necessarily makes its decisions as independent of the Department for Communities and Local Government, of which Eric Pickles is the Secretary of State. Planning Inspectors can and often arrive at the wrong conclusions. The Secretary of State however can “call-in” a planning application before the local planning authority takes the planning decision – as I have called upon him to do successfully in the Stone constituency – and also a similar power to “recover” a planning appeal (against a local authority’s decision) which has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, so that he can then take the final decision. Decisions made by local councils cannot be overturned by planning inspectorate officers working for Eric Pickles, as Sam Hale suggests, since they do not work for him. Decisions made by local councils cannot be “overturned by planning inspectorate officers working for Eric Pickles.”
I met with the housing minister several times in relation to housing in Cheadle. I personally proposed and presented a petition to the House of Commons of over 884 residents in Cheadle opposing excessive levels of housing development. The petition stated: (Link)
I opposed the Thorley Drive proposals with you – and in line with these representations, they have been rejected by the Council.
In short, of course, I reaffirm the wording on our petition.
Furthermore, I presented my Local Planning and Housing Bill (attached) – which has received great support, local and nationally – in the House of Commons to provide for the improvement of local planning procedures, protect the Local Plan from challenge, protection of greenfield or green belt sites and encourage use of brownfield sites and reviewing Planning Inspectorate appeals.
Apart from housing, I have also for example, strongly objected to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council listing of potential sites for permanent traveller camps not only at Cheadle but Forsbrook, Cresswell and Blythe Bridge.
You comment on Cheadle’s tourism potential in your Community Brief with which I very much agree. I have continuously campaigned for Cheadle to be recognised as having strong tourism potential and our rural tourism can embrace enhanced opportunities for e.g. B&B occupancy in the town, improvements to the town’s economy and even more good restaurants. This is key because 2013 in particular was a record-breaking year for international tourism. Overseas visitors made a record 34.8 million trips to the UK and spent a record £21.7 billion whilst here – proof of the tourism strategy working for the Conservatives in Government. Cheadle is within easy reach of the wonderful scenery of the Staffordshire Moorlands, it is the gateway to Alton Towers, with the beautiful Churnet Valley and its railway only 10 minutes drive away. It is home of the Roman Catholic St. Giles Church, described as “Pugin’s Gem”, including a Pugin Centre in Lulworth House on the High Street. I have already made representations to Alton Towers with a view to their generating business in the town. Furthermore, in terms of our region, last year alone almost 25 million people, from home and abroad, enjoyed day or overnight trips to Staffordshire. This helped generate over £1.1 billion in direct spend on accommodation, entertainment, travel, shopping and food and drink. In addition to this, the tourism sector in Staffordshire supports over 28,300 jobs and generates an additional £500 million of associated spend in the sector. Local tourism businesses in Staffordshire are bringing in £96 million a month for the local economy and sustaining tens of thousands of jobs and I will continue to campaign to ensure that tourism in Cheadle is recognised as being of such vital importance, by continuing to oppose any excessive new housing developments which might impact upon our key features of tourism for the town.
I have strongly supported Cheadle Unite, and made ongoing representations for the group formed by residents to address the disproportionate amount of housing allocated to Cheadle.
I will continue to support Cheadle Unite and the residents of Cheadle against unwanted and inappropriate development proposals as I have so often successfully in the past.
Bill Cash, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stone constituency