In recent years we’ve made great progress in Copeland. Conservatives on the council, working with the Mayor, have produced a balanced budget, invested £1 million into our high streets and created more street cleaning teams. But there’s more to be done to make Copeland fit for the future.
One area in which I would particularly like to see further improvement is in the council’s planning policies. We need to build the right mix of houses in the right places, where local people tell us that they need them. We need to make sure that more local residents can have a home of their own – with the right infrastructure, and through a system which listens to local people.
There are two equal and opposite traps which a council can fall into when deciding whether to give planning permission for new homes or other developments. One is to listen to those who have concerns and objections but not pay enough attention to the need for new development or to economic realities, so that you end up making it almost impossible to put one brick on top of another. This invariably leads to lost opportunities, lost jobs, and young people being forced to move away to find a job and somewhere to live.
The opposite mistake, and an equally disastrous one, is to be so desperate for new development that you approve every application in sight without asking if the roads and other infrastructure are in place to support it, never insisting on an element of affordable housing, and bullying into silence anyone who dares to ask reasonable questions such as whether the proposed road access is safe and adequate.
The residents of the Copeland Borough Council area deserve a balanced, effective planning policy which avoids either of these extremes.
So one of my top priorities is for Copeland Council to adopt a sound, balanced local plan, which provides for good developments and for large schemes to include an element of affordable housing – which will be much easier to enforce if it is included in an up-to-date adopted local plan. A plan which will also provide for adequate local infrastructure, on which I will work with the Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council,
Such a plan will enable us to encourage more good schemes and affordable housing while discouraging the sort of half-baked proposal which has come forward too often lately, putting hundreds more cars onto narrow access roads which are barely coping now without making any effort to improve them. It is high time we had such a plan In place.
I am running to be the next elected mayor of Copeland. You can find out more about our plan for Copeland and have your say by filling in our short survey at: https://www.copelandconservatives.org.uk/our-plan-copeland