Time for Boris to take London's tanks off Hertfordshire's lawn

Sandy speaking on planning reform at LibDem conference in York 8th March 2014


Did you know we live in the London-Luton-Bedford (LLB) planning corridor?  Well nor did I and nor did Hertfordshire - at least the county wasn't consulted when London mayor Boris Johnson came up with the idea. The previous Labour government unilaterally described St Albans and Watford as London Arc West (‘LAW’) and I didn't like that either. 

Now we're just dots on the map in an ‘LLB corridor’. Boris came up with this designation without any proper liaison with the relevant local authorities.  It's supposed to be about co-ordination, it is really about getting himself off the hook. His latest wheeze is a proposed redraft of his London plan to announce that London now needs an extra 49,000 new housing units each year - but he is only requiring the London boroughs to identify places for 42,000 units.  The other 7,000 will be found by magic - or by being squeezed into neighbouring counties like Hertfordshire.

I welcome the county council's intention to formally challenge Boris's approach.  It's also why I spoke in the highly relevant debate on reform of UK planning law at this weekend's Liberal Democrat conference in York. As I said in the debate, it's quite wrong that Boris has strategic planning powers denied to Hertfordshire and other non-London authorities.  If we want to accord more than lip service to the government's much vaunted commitment to localism, we must give real power over planning back to local authorities and local communities.

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