Friday, July 13, 2007

Planning Law fiasco in the Green Belt

For those of you that don’t know, Basildon has a problem with unauthorised development in the Green Belt and has been trying for several years to enforce Planning Decisions to clear several sites. Ordinary people whose communities have been blighted by such development cannot understand why despite repeated votes at Council, and judgements from Planning Inspectors such sites remain occupied. The reason is simply that Planning Legislation in the UK has loopholes that can be exploited to tie Local Authorities up in a succession of legal processes, each one of which further delays the process of eviction. If the claimants have access to legal aid, which they often do, then the process can go on for quite some time, and it has. John Baron MP has attempted to clear up the legislative mess by drafting and submitting a bill, but the Labour government has showed no interest whatsoever and it was lost. So, Basildon Council is out of pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds over several years of legal combat and we have made only slow progress towards a final solution.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats on the Council have effectively caved in, quite publicly stating that they wouldn’t have borne the cost of enforcing Planning Law. Well, Conservatives are different. We don’t think that the Law is an optional extra or that we should only enforce it when it is easy. We certainly don’t think that those that break the rules should prosper at the expense of those that do.

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