AS YOUR MP, I’m active across the whole constituency, and as I walk and drive around, I often think to myself what a wonderful area this is to live, work, visit or invest in.
From Hayling Island’s Seafront and semi-rural hinterland, to coastal Emsworth on Chichester Harbour, to leafy residential streets across the Havant borough – it’s easy to see why this is such a desirable place to own a home.
Residents will want this natural beauty protected, but many tell me they’re also worried that their children and grandchildren won’t be able to buy a good home in the area.
These two interests need to be balanced by your local councillors as they draft the new Havant Borough Local Plan.
The plan identifies areas where housing can be built and areas that should be protected from development.
An effective Local Plan can be used as a shield, giving power over planning decisions to your elected local councillors rather than a planning inspector who might not know our area’s geography and characteristics.
Without a Local Plan – as is currently the case in Eastleigh – the whole constituency is under threat from speculative development proposals being put in, and often approved on appeal if the council initially says no.
That’s why three of my MP colleagues, Mims Davies (in Eastleigh), Steve Brine (Winchester) and George Hollingbery (Waterlooville) are fighting Eastleigh Borough Council’s refusal to draft a Local Plan at all. Luckily in Havant our councillors are drafting a Local Plan right now, which both George and I support.
The National Planning Policy Framework guidelines, which are used to draw up Local Plans across the country, already give councils the tools to protect the environment and local green spaces, so local residents should be reassured.
The government was elected last year on a manifesto commitment to give more people the opportunity to own a home, so the sooner we agree a new Local Plan the sooner we get local control over where exactly those homes are built, preventing a free-for- all by developers and protecting sensitive areas.
As a local MP, I meet more residents – and gauge more local opinions – than anyone else, and most residents I meet accept this as a sensible approach.
So let’s get behind the council’s Local Plan work.