Michael Fabricant has cautiously welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday 27th March) of the new National Planning Policy Framework. "I am reassured that in a letter to me, the Minister, Greg Clark, has said ‘The Local Plan is the basis for decisions in the planning system’ and that is why Lichfield District Council must be resolute in not going down the road of over-development in its own Local Plan" says Michael. "I am also pleased that the Minister is clear in saying that the Green Belt must be protected and ‘cannot be overridden by the presumption in favour of sustainable development’. Without the Green Belt, Lichfield and Burntwood run the risk of becoming a suburb or Greater Birmingham.
"Ever since the Government freed local councils from the edicts of the Regional Assembly in Birmingham who set ridiculously high housebuilding targets throughout the West Midlands, it has been up to local councils to decide what is best for their areas.
"I have always been clear: we must provide sufficient homes to accommodate natural growth within the District, but if we exceed those levels, we will transform Lichfield from being recently one of the most attractive places to live in the country, to an overgrown urban sprawl which would be unattractive to both newcomers and existing residents. That must not happen and the Government has empowered local councils to ensure that they exercise good judgement. If they do not, they will be answerable to the electorate.
"But in all my discussions with Council Leader, Mike Wilcox, I have been reassured that he will not use this opportunity as an excuse for excessive growth in the District."