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Letter: My Local Plan Vote Was Not for Political Gain

Published on: 27 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 27 Apr, 2019

From: Liz Hogger

Lib Dem Councillor and candidate in the forthcoming borough council election on May 2.

In response to: Personal Ambitions Should Come Second

Mr Mason clearly knows very little about me or about my green belt ward of Effingham.

Most of the residents in my ward are strongly opposed to the Wisley Airfield new town, as indeed am I. It would not be a sustainable development, it would pour traffic onto our local rural roads and damage our environment here in the east of the borough. If I had been thinking about the ballot box next week, I would simply have voted against the adoption of the Local Plan.

The reason I could not in all conscience vote against is precisely because of my long experience on the Planning Committee. Without an adopted Local Plan, the council does not have a five-year housing land supply. Without that, we cannot be confident about refusing planning applications for housing development which would harm my village, since they are likely to be allowed at appeal. The lack of a five-year housing land supply was one factor in the appalling appeal decision by the Secretary of State last year, to allow Berkeley Homes to build 295 homes and a new, enlarged school on Effingham’s green belt.

It’s too late to save our green belt from that, but there are other potentially harmful planning applications on the horizon which we can best resist by having an adopted Local Plan and a five-year housing land supply. Examples include the recent application for 23 homes on the Church Street field in the heart of Effingham’s Conservation Area, a rumoured intention to replace a well-loved local pub with housing, and the possible revival of the proposal for a ‘Leewood Park’ development of housing on green belt at the edge of the village.

My worry about this potential planning harm to my village was exactly matched by my outrage about the unnecessary loss of green belt and the inclusion of the Wisley Airfield new town in the Plan. I could not vote for the Plan because of Wisley, and I could not vote against because of the potential planning harm to Effingham of not having an adopted Plan. The only honourable option was to abstain. I did say this at council, but it seems either Mr Mason wasn’t listening or he chose not to believe me.

I can’t imagine what personal ambitions Mr Mason thinks I might have that would benefit from my decision to abstain. I have never voted on the Planning Committee or at council on planning policy matters for political gain. It is deeply regrettable that Mr Mason has cast such aspersions on my integrity without a shred of evidence.

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test One Response to Letter: My Local Plan Vote Was Not for Political Gain

  1. Simon Mason Reply

    April 27, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    I am sorry for casting such aspersions on Liz Hogger’s integrity, it is just the way I felt on the night and maybe naively put it down to political “sitting on the fence” on the run up to the election.

    Like Ms Hogger says there are many arguments for and against the plan but isn’t that precisely the time to vote in line with the wishes of most of the residents she represents?

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