A senior councillor tasked with helping to create a crucial document framing future planning across Wealden has been slammed as “illusional“, and his eco-ideas as “frankly unworkable”.
The criticism of the Green Party’s Ian Tysh comes from opposition planning spokesman Cllr Ann Newton. The former leader of Wealden District Council, who held the planning portfolio for many years, was accused of inaccuracy at this week’s council meeting over a suggestion to require every new home built in the district to have solar roof panels.
Cllr Newton pointed out, in the debate, that currently planning authorities (such as Wealden) cannot impose more measures than are in the Building Regulations but was immediately rounded upon by Cllr Tysh who claimed it was “possible for councils to insist on standards higher than Building Regulations in their Local Plan”.
Citing that a little learning is a dangerous thing, Cllr Newton explains: “You can put policies in your Local Plan, but it then has to be approved by an inspector. Whatever the unrealistic and fanatical ideas the Greens have, they will find that developers criticise anything that affects building affordability as part of the plan’s approval process. What’s more, they are given a sympathetic ear on this matter. There has to be a balance otherwise councils could demand platinum-plated taps just to stop developers from building.”
Wealden Conservatives say they support more sustainable building standards which incorporate (where viable) heat pumps, solar panels and top insulation standards.
“This has been the longstanding approach that we have taken in building our own local social housing”, says Cllr Newton. “But the Wealden Alliance yet again have failed to understand where the line between national building requirements and the local plan is drawn.
"The Alliance would be better employed lobbying Whitehall to bring forward existing plans to raise sustainable building standards, but in seeking the right balance remember that these will cost the hard-working families who buy these houses more money in the short term.”