This week, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced that the government is scrapping all Regional Strategies, which impose top-down housing targets on local communities. Here in Elmbridge, the South East Plan had piled the pressure on our greenbelt, and other open spaces, by dictating the building of almost 6,000 new housing units.
Mr Pickles has written to all local authorities, including Elmbridge, relieving them of those arbitrary targets, and indicating that housing policy in the future will be set by communities. This is critical to protecting our greenbelt, but also signals a broader sea-change of approach. I will be pressing hard to ensure that this is just a first step towards much stronger local democracy over a range of bread and butter decisions that impact on community life.