Wyre MP raises town’s problems

MP Ben Wallace
MP Ben Wallace
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Wyre MP Ben Wallace is calling on Wyre Council to get its act together over future development in the borough.

He claimed many of his constituents are “under siege from developers” and this week raised a question on the issue in Parliament.

He says the Council should block any development proposals until it has given residents a chance to view an up to date overall site allocation plan for the district detailing just where development may be permitted.

The MP told the Courier: “What I haven’t seen from Wyre is an all-singing, all-dancing consultation process that has allowed my constituents and the people of Garstang to know and have a view on what’s planned.”

Now the Government’s planning minister Nicholas Boles has offered to intervene saying his staff can help Wyre Council draw up such a future needs and development plan.

Mr Wallace, speaking at Question Time in the House of Commons on Monday, told Mr Boles: “Many of my constituents in the market town of Garstang are currently under siege from developers, who are trying to bypass the local core development plan process and using their might to force through planning permission.”

He asked what extra steps could “be put in place to ensure that local authorities keep control of where they want developments to happen and how they want them to proceed?”

Mr Boles responded: “The most important thing is that his local authority produce a plan. We are happy to support the process of getting that plan in place in any way we can.

“The key is to get that plan in place, and then the local authority will be in charge.”

Some 55 per cent of councils have adopted local plans in place. Mr Wallace is now arranging to meet Mr Boles to discuss the issue further.

He said the Conservatives had devolved decision making to local councils – as part of its “Localism “ agenda – so councils could decide how best to meet their planning needs over the next 20 years, adding

“The problem is a number of authorities are quite late /behind in doing this.”

He warned that without such a robust plan – which he said acts as a “shield from developers forcing the pace” – the national Planning Inspectorate would inevitably allow developers to proceed.

Mr Wallace met Wyre Council Chief Executive Gary Payne, Head of Planning David Thow and Coun Peter Murphy last Thursday to share his concerns.

He revealed he had put a Freedom Of Information request into Wyre Council to ask what information the Council has shared with its Planning Ambassadors.