MP takes invasion fight to Westminster

AN MP has taken the fight against plans to build thousands of houses on North Herts Green Belt to Parliament. Peter Lilley, member for Hitchin and Harpenden, has asked the Government to close a loophole in the law that allowed Luton and Central Bedfordshi

AN MP has taken the fight against plans to build thousands of houses on North Herts Green Belt to Parliament.

Peter Lilley, member for Hitchin and Harpenden, has asked the Government to close a loophole in the law that allowed Luton and Central Bedfordshire to propose meeting their government housing targets by building outside their borders.

A joint planning committee formed of councillors from the two councils propose building 5,500 houses and associated infrastructure, including a major ring road, on 10,000 hectares of Herts countryside to the east of Luton.

In a debate on the Local Government, Economic Development and Construction Bill, Mr Lilley proposed that the law should explicitly state that no local authority could seek to meet their housing targets by applying for planning permission in the area of another local authority.


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He said: "The spirit of this bill is to encourage local democracy. That can only flourish if local representatives are accountable to those whose interests they serve and affect.

"If they are serving one lot of residents by affecting those in another area who are unable to vote either for or against them, that is the antithesis of democracy. You cannot have democracy without accountability.

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"The elected representatives of Luton and Central Bedfordshire should consider proposals that affect their own areas before they even dream of predatory development elsewhere."

After the debate last Thursday, Mr Lilley said "As the only objection raised against my clause in the committee was that it did not allow for the case where two local authorities might agree that one could build in the other authority's area, I withdrew the clause and have since tabled a revised clause to be considered when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

"Whether or not this will succeed will depend on whether the government for some as yet unstated reason decides to whip its members against the new clause."

Council officers at Luton are currently compiling an initial report outlining the main issues raised in the public consultation process on the proposals which ended on June 12. It will be presented to the joint planning committee on July 4.

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: "This will help the committee when it considers what future steps will need to be taken."

A further full report on the consultation will then be presented to the committee on September 18.

A final 'core strategy' is planned for the end of the year.

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