Local Planning should be local

Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, Councillor, Doctor Hugh Mason answers 'why is there so much building in Portsmouth?'






Portsmouth is a popular place for people to live. Being a seaside city has huge attractions to many. There is also the need to find space for the children and grandchildren who have grown up in the city when they become adults and need a place of their own. 

The pressure to build more housing comes partly from the local demand. There's another pressure which seems like a never ending force requiring the building of more and more housing.

For the last 25 years Governments of all parties (Labour, Conservative and Coalition) have imposed home building targets on councils.

The problem the City Council has at the moment is that the Government has almost doubled Portsmouth's target to 855 new houses or flats being built each year. This is a huge number and, in reality, it is unachievable as we are already a densely built up city surrounded by the sea.

The Government expects councils to do three things:

  1. Give enough planning permissions for building this number every year.
  2. Show the land which could be developed over the next 20 years to deliver 17,000 new houses/flats.
  3. Show what land will be vacant in the next 5 years to allow this level of building.
If the City Council doesn't do this, the Government can remove the limited powers which the council has to make local planning decisions and instead the Government would make all planning decisions without local input. Decisions on Portsmouth would be made in Bristol by planners who do not know our city. Planning legislation is always biased in favour of the developers. As a result councils have limited powers to say no. I don't want Portsmouth to lose the limited powers it does possess.

What could the effect be if the Government did remove planning powers?

It could mean areas the City Council has protected from housing development would lose that protection. We protect land for jobs in the city so people don't have to drive for miles to work. We protect green spaces from development. Some of these are protected by national policy but some are not. These protections could be lost leaving employment and leisure areas at risk from developers and their friends in Government.
The council, therefore, is required to show where we could develop 17,000 new houses/flats over the next 20 years. This will mean  really hard decisions. The current plan sees development on the derelict land near the Mountbatten Centre, and in the city centre along with the land beside the M275 where the derelict crane sits. Almost no one I talk to wants this level of development but Government Ministers demand it.

Do you agree with me that;
  • Planning decisions about Portsmouth be made here by Portsmouth residents, or by Government officials in Bristol

  • The decision on how many homes are built in Portsmouth be made here in the city, or by Ministers in London?

  • The Government is wrong to force Portsmouth to build 855 new houses/flats a year for the next 20 years?

If you do, please sign my petition calling for the people who represent you locally to have genuine control of the quantity, type, and quality of homes that should be built in Portsmouth.
Councillor Dr Hugh Mason - Portsmouth Cabinet Member for Planning Policy
Lib Dem Councillor for St Jude ward in Southsea

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