Simplification of national planning policy, which then ran to in excess of 1000 pages, was a priority for the Coalition Government. It therefore published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012, reduced to just 50 pages, which requires councils to have in place a Core Strategy delineating their plans for sustainable housebuilding.
Between 2010 and 2014 I was heavily involved in lobbying the Government to make changes to the NPPF in order to close some loopholes that might otherwise have adversely affected the constituency. More details of this can be seen here.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council adopted its Core Strategy in July 2016. The Strategy identified some underutilised brownfield sites upon which entirely new settlements could be built, negating the need for dispersed and small-scale development across the district’s towns and villages which could threaten their rural aesthetic and charm. One such brownfield site was identified at Long Marston Airfield. After the adoption of the Core Strategy, an application was quickly made with my support to the Government’s ‘Garden Village’ scheme to see one built in Long Marston.
The then Housing Minister wrote to me (see letter here) in January 2017 to confirm the application had been accepted and that Stratford District Council would be allocated £228,000 of capacity funding to take the project forward. Subsequently I supported bids made by the Council to the Housing Infrastructure Fund to help with the costs of new infrastructure made necessary by the Garden Village, many of which go far beyond those typically in the remit of local authorities. My supporting letters and can be seen here and here. I am delighted that both bids were successful. £13.4 million was allocated to the project in January 2018 (see letter here) and in March 2018 it was confirmed that the project would progress to the co-development stage (see letter here) where central government will directly assist Stratford District Council in progressing the project.
In January 2019 I supported a further bid made by Stratford District Council and Warwickshire County Council to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, this time for funds to cover the costs of a south western relief road in Stratford (part of the Transport Strategy) to alleviate increased traffic pressures ensuing form the Garden Village. My letter can be read here and we are still awaiting a Government decision on this bid.
Then in February 2019, a further £300,000 of capacity funding was handed to the project to help drive its design and delivery (see letter here). This means the total funding injected from central government into the project now stands at £13,928,000 – just shy of £14 million.
I want to pay tribute to all the ongoing hard work at Stratford District Council and I will continue to support this project at every opportunity.