You Can’t Live Here – Unless You Earn £100,000?
On Tuesday night I attended a Northampton Borough Council Planning Committee meeting to support a planning application in Weston Favell Village and listen to the debate following comments on BBC radio by one of our Local MP’s who was objecting to the application which incidentally is next door to where he lives.
It obviously caused a stir because reporters from the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror turned up, something quite rare for a three home planning application in middle England.
The reasons for objecting to the application put forward by as senior Conservative Councillor who had clearly been briefed on why it should not be allowed were quite amazing.
First Objection. That there had been no developments in the very large gardens on the side of the road under discussion and it would set a precedent.
(Wrong. Planning officers pointed out that there had been developments only 4 houses away and a number of new homes were already being built-in the village on similar sites)
Second objection. That the number of homes was too many and it was just a developer trying to make a quick profit.
(Wrong. I’ll come to why this was wrong but it does show that what was being put around the village was misleading and demonstrates the thoughts and attitudes of those who were saying it)
Third Objection. That the homes were out of keeping because there was a need to have large 4 and 5 bedroom house of the sort already in the area for those who can afford to live there and who earn between £100,000 and £200,000 a year. After all the argument went, high earners would not want to live in three bedroom houses.
Well done to Councillor Gerri Ford who sits on the Planning Committee for picking up on what was an incredible statement showing once again that the Conservatives are it appears not only the party who support the wealthy in Westminster but in Northampton as well.
Which brings me back to why objection 2 was so wrong.
It must have become clear to the committee that far from being a developer looking to make a quick profit the applicants were people who had been brought up in the village, whose parents live in the village and that the homes were going to be homes for elderly grandparents and a young family who wanted to remain in the area near to strong family links.
Talking to them afterwards they admitted they don’t earn over £100k, but then again as a local doctor working in the NHS the applicant explained that his choice of career was not based on making money nor was his wife who being the highly qualified architect has designed the house they will live in to create a home and environment in which to bring up their young daughter.
So all in all the objections were seen for what they were, quite ridiculous and the planning committee voted to allow it to go forward.
It does however raise a number of questions,
Why did three of the Conservative Councillors on the committee vote against the proposals despite not asking any questions of the applicants or explaining why they thought it shouldn’t get permission?
A cynic may suggest that they felt they had to support their local MP and especially in the case of the Councillor who is the Chairman of the MP’s Conservative Association – who knows – and it has to be said that there is no evidence that pressure was applied to members of the planning committee.
On the positive side one Conservative Councillor made a point of thanking the officers for reminding the committee that it was for them to make the decisions based on the planning application before them.
Another positive for everyone in Northampton who may object or support a planning application in the future is that they now have precedence where they may want to ask an MP to support their position and use their influence to call an application in for public consideration by the full planning committee following a site visit?
The good news as Gerri Davies pointed out was that “this is a good application, bringing young families to an area, supporting the local economy by the employment of builders and trades and keeping an extended family together”
So well done to the planning committee.
Just one thing,
I wonder if there is a definite map of Northampton showing where the Conservatives believe that only those who earn over £100,000 will be permitted to live and following on from the recent senior Conservatives letter published in the Chronicle telling people to “give it a rest” from complaining about the cuts to police and NHS, streetlights and the issue of the bus station are we now seeing the “real face” of Northampton Conservatives?
It rather looks as if the Conservative attitude is
“Don’t complain about the shortage of police”, (because I have my own security),
“Don’t complain about cuts to NHS”, (because I have private medical insurance),
“Don’t complain about the buses and public transport”, (because I never use it),
“Don’t complain about the street lights being switched off”, (because it doesn’t affect me)
“If you want to be my neighbour please make sure you earn over £100,000”, (because I only speak to the rich)
“Please stop asking me to explain”, (because I really haven’t time to listen to you).
Out of Touch?