Press Release from Save Newport Campaign

THE BATTLE OF NEWPORT in SHROPSHIRE – PUBLIC INQUIRY WILL TEST NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY – starts January 29th 2013

Campaign invites Planning Minister to come and see for himself after national press highlights the case

 

Save Newport Campaign writes to Nick Boles, Eric Pickles and Nick Herbert

 

Newport, Shropshire a traditional market town (population c.11,900 in c4,500 homes) depends on its historic & vibrant High Street and its healthy mix of local independent retailers and some national chains. There are however, plenty of “sales” on at present. If HMV, Jessops and Currys have gone how much more vulnerable are small independents….

Since mid 2011, the Save Newport Campaign, comprising local residents and businesses, has been fighting plans for a huge Sainsbury’s superstore to be built on greenfield land on the edge of the town ( currently awaiting Inspector’s yes or no decision on designattion as Town or Village Green following an Inquiry in October 2012),applications for two other supermarkets on the edge of town (both of which have announced that Morrisons are in talks about operating the stores !) plus three major housing applications for a minimum total of circa 850 homes.

 

Secretary of State Eric Pickles ‘called in’ the Sainbury’s superstore application in 2012 and the Public Inquiry starts on 29 January 2013. Mr Pickles had also written to the local authority in which Newport is situated,Telford and Wrekin Council, in July 2012, requesting to be consulted when any of the three major housing applications were brought forward, to see whether he was going to call them in too.

 

Following the shock joint statement by the Prime Minister and Eric Pickles on 6th September 2012, on housing numbers and other planning matters, Telford & Wrekin Council immediately brought forward two of the major housing applications for a minimum 500 out of the 850 dwellings but Mr Pickles did not call these in: in the light of the September policy post, of seemingly approving all housing applications regardless of whether they comply with the local plan and, in the case of Newport, whether the existing infrastructure can support the additional numbers.

 

In a letter to Planning Minister Nick Boles, the Save Newport Campaign has invited the Minister to visit the town and see for himself the increased strain on the infrastructure which, as with many small towns, is old and struggling to cope even with existing demands.

 

A campaign spokesman said, “we also want to ask the Minister, why, after the changes to the draft NPPF following a public outcry in 2011 and the provisions of the Localism Act 2011,which were intended to start planning matters at Parish and Town Council level, the 6th September statement seems to have taken the planning process back to the March 2011 position as stated by the previous Minister, Greg Clarke, of ‘build anything anywhere”.

” We would also like to ask Minister Boles how his ‘25% bung’ to local people to act as an inducement for more housing will work in practice.

“If the Community Infrastructure Levy’ is to pay for improvements in old infrastructure to help it cope with new housing numbers, then who pays for the actual 25% of its cost that Minister Boles is giving away? Will it come from even higher increases in utility bills as the Council cannot charge the builders 125% i.e to get the 100% needed for the infrastructure costs after deducting the 25% ‘incentive’ as the housebuilders would quite reasonably say that this is a penalty not a levy’. We wait and hope to see if Minister Boles accepts the invitation to visit Newport.”

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