Priti has supported a number of residents and local Parish Councils in relation to planning and development matters. This includes working with them on Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans and addressing issues with individual planning applications. Priti is keen to see new local housing in the constituency which is sustainable, provides new financial investment in local transport and key public services, provides local employment and is integral to the local communities which they are built in. This includes supporting more local homes for local people. However, not all development proposals are suitable and Priti works with local communities across the constituency to scrutinise a range of planning applications every year in conjunction with constituents and councils.
As a Member of Parliament, Priti does not have a vote on deciding individual planning applications or on local planning policies as these are determined by local authorities and democratically elected councillors. However, as these issues affect residents and communities across the Witham constituency, Priti takes a strong interest in supporting her constituents to make representations on their behalf.
Planning and development has an important role to play in providing new homes for people to live in, sites for employment and jobs, and improvements to infrastructure and to public services. Due to its strategic location and proximity to London, there are many sites in and around the Witham constituency that developers are interested in using. As a Member of Parliament, Priti takes a strong interest in these matters and knows how important it is for local communities to be involved in development decisions that affect them. Local planning and development decisions on policies and specific applications are made by democratically elected councillors and although Priti does not have a vote on these decisions, as the local MP she does all comments, questions and concerns that residents draw to her attention with the respective councils.
In 2016 there have been number of specific planning and development issues relating to individual applications and to Local Plans that have generated considerable interest. If residents are submitting comments about planning and development matters to local councils, they are welcome to copy Priti in. Details of some of the most high profile issues are provided below for information.
Individual planning applications are determined in the first instance by local planning authorities by professional planning officers or by elected councillors on the planning committee. If an application is refused it can be appealed to an independent planning inspector to consider. When determining planning applications, decision-makers have to consider how the applications relate to local and national planning policies.
Priti is not a local councillor and is not therefore part of the decision-making process on planning applications. However, Priti does ensure that comments she receives about planning applications are drawn to the attention of the relevant decision-maker. She also raises questions with local councils and will raise constituents concerns about planning applications.
Priti has supported a number of local residents campaigning in favour of or against particular applications and intervenes on a case-by-case basis.
Local Plans and Local Planning Policies:
The Witham constituency covers parts of three different local authorities as well as Essex County Council. Each local authority has its own local planning policies, which they decide subject to a comprehensive process taking place.
Maldon District Council had its latest Local Plan approved in July 2017 and details of its planning policies can be found online at: https://www.maldon.gov.uk/info/20048/planning_policy
Braintree District Council and Colchester Borough Council are both in the process of updating their Local Plans. Details of their current and emerging planning policies can be found at the weblinks below.
Braintree District Council: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/info/200230/planning_policy
Colchester Borough Council: https://beta.colchester.gov.uk/info/category/?id=planning-policy
Priti is a strong supporter of local communities deciding their own local planning priorities. This includes communities being able to set local planning policies on where developments should take place in their communities and what sites should be protected from development.
Neighbourhood Plans, which have been introduced by the Government, give communities, including Parish Councils, an opportunity to have a greater say on planning and development. Priti is supporting community groups across the Witham constituency to establish their own Neighbourhood Plans.
Opposing the Rivenhall Incinerator:
Priti has worked with local residents in opposing the proposals for the Rivenhall Incinerator. The Rivenhall Incinerator was originally granted planning permission by the previous Labour Government in March 2010, prior to Priti being elected as Witham’s MP.
Since its planning permission was originally granted, the Rivenhall Incinerator proposals have changed significantly requiring new planning consents, amendments to planning consents and an environmental permit licence to operate.
At every stage in the process Priti has been making representations to the Environment Agency, the Government and Essex County Council to support local residents and reiterate the strength of local opposition to the Incinerator.
Protecting the Countryside in Hatfield Peverel:
Priti has been working with the local community in Hatfield Peverel to oppose unacceptable and unsustainable development proposals on sites off Stonepath Drive and off Gleneagles Way. The village is already set to expand with over 200 new homes being built, including new homes on the former Arla Dairy brownfield site. Hatfield Peverel Parish Council has also been working on a Neighbourhood Plan, which would be severely undermined by the developments proposed for Stone Path Drive and Gleneagles Way.
The two planning applications originally approved by Braintree District Council have been considered by an independent planning inspector who has produced a report for the Secretary of State to consider.
Backing New Jobs at Tollgate Village and Stane Park:
Priti was pleased to join local residents in supporting the proposed Tollgate Village and Stane Park developments. Both developments will bring new jobs to Stanway as well as offering much needed new shops and leisure facilities. However, getting these developments approved has been a long battle with Colchester Borough Council doing everything possible to block and oppose them.
The Council ignored local residents and neglected Stanway while wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money. But both developments were given permission on appeal and Priti looks forward to seeing the developments completed.
There are proposals for three garden communities in North Essex, including a proposal for a new settlement on the Braintree District and Colchester Borough borders, which falls within the Witham constituency. Both local authorities are putting these proposals in their emerging Local Plans, which an independent planning inspector is currently considering.
Priti has been in contact with a number of residents about these proposals and has raised concerns, comments and questions with the councils and with the Government. Priti has consistently called on the councils and the Government to bring forward significant investment in new public services and infrastructure to support population growth, along with employment sites and opportunities to sustain any future garden settlement.