I have blogged previously about my home town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire and the two supermarkets that are trying to open in the town – Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The planning issues have caused huge debate in the town and the local MP has been very vocal – possibly not with the towns best interests in mind…..
The applications were both delayed from earlier in the year to allow further discussion (as the Government is keen to promote) and were decided in June by the planning committee – and the decision went as recommended by the planning officer – a refusal for Sainsbury’s (situated too far away from the town) and consent for the Waitrose on the site behind the old silk mill. In my opinion the correct decision – the Waitrose site is close enough to the town to work with it rather than against it.
So in an ideal world the planning officers decision (he is paid to advise after all) would stand. But not if you are the local MP it appears. He asked the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to call the decision in. This has caused further uncertainty in the town – exactly what it doesn’t need at the moment. After all, who would open a new business in a town with this level of uncertainty hanging over it?
I wrote this blog some while ago and didn’t get round to publishing it, I considered its subject was probably a ‘one off’ and perhaps I was getting worked up over nothing! But this week a very similar situation has occurred here in Nottingham – an MP asking for a decision to be called in again by Eric Pickles, despite all due process having been followed.
In my mind this just can’t be right, holding back land in this way delays both house building (which the Government are demanding) and the economy as a whole. It also appears to be totally at odds with what the Government claim to be trying to achieve with their ‘localism’ program.
Perhaps it’s time to think about local issues first and politics second?