Striking the right balance between conserving our precious natural environment and enabling sustainable development will be a key issue for all of us in the weeks, months and years ahead. Local businesses, including food producers need space to grow and employ people, and local people need genuinely affordable homes to rent or buy.
I believe people and communities are best placed to make the decisions on how to strike this balance and achieve the quality of life that we all value in Cornwall. I am pleased that the Government’s reforms of the planning system seek to achieve this. I am well aware that some people are concerned that these reforms will in someway lead to “concreting over the countryside”. Whenever a government proposes change there are vested interests on all sides of the debate who often misrepresent those changes to aid their own cause.
So you can decide what you think about the proposed reforms, my team and I have produced a simple, plan English guide for you to consider. You can obtain it from my website or by calling my office. After you have read it and need any more information or have questions and concerns you want to raise with me, I will be delighted to work with you. The Localism Bill that intends to bring in these changes is making its way through Parliament and I will take up your issues with Ministers.
If you would like me to visit a group in your community, such as a residents association, I will be delighted to come along and discuss the proposed changes with you.
I can assure readers that I will do everything in my power to protect our areas of outstanding natural beauty (ANOBs) and our environmentally valuable ecosystems. At the same time I will work closely with businesses and enterprises in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors that are creating new and good quality jobs for people of all ages.
There is evidence that, as a result of changes to how people live and the fact that overall we are living longer, we now have a housing crisis. This crisis worsened over the past decade, a period when there was a great deal of immigration into our country and when not enough genuinely affordable homes were built.
It is vital that we start building well-designed homes in well planned areas for local people to rent or buy so our children and grandchildren have somewhere to live.
Cornwall Council has good policies to help landlords bring empty properties back into use. For social rented housing as well as ‘affordable housing’ they also have the power to ensure that people with local connections to a particular town or village are prioritized for those homes. I have seen this being delivered well in St Agnes and Gerrans.
I believe the new homes that are being built in St Agnes are a great example of meeting local housing need in an attractive and sustainable way and congratulate all those in St Agnes who have supported this development.