Future Newent Meet MP Mark Harper

As part of our continued campaign against the development of 375 new homes here in Newent, representatives from Future Newent, Newent Town Council and Forest of Dean District Council met MP Mark Harper last week. 

Mr Harper was unable to attend a public meeting held in Newent last month to discuss the planning application but was keen to meet local residents to explore concerns. 

Mark made it clear before the meeting that he has no power to intervene in the planning process. So we weren’t expecting miracles, but he had clearly done some research into our case and gave us some very useful suggestions about the best way to move forward.

The first hurdle is convincing the planning authority, Forest of Dean District Council, that the application should be refused. If FoDC approves the application then it’s game over, there is no right of appeal for Newent.

Part of the reason Future Newent was formed was because District Councillors in Newent have stated repeatedly that there is “no way to stop this application” and that we are “flogging a dead horse” because “the planning system is broken.” It felt as though they weren’t even prepared to try to get the concerns of people in Newent heard by the planning authority. Almost as if we were all being encouraged to just shut up and put up with it. 

It gets a bit disheartening listening to this sort of talk  – especially coming from councillors who are part of the planning process – so it was good to hear that Mr Harper had a different view. 

Mr Harper felt that even with an out of date Local Plan and a land supply of slightly less than 5 years, there could still be strong arguments to be made for asking FoDC to reject this application. 

Newent Town Council have lodged an initial strong objection to the planning application.The council has also employed a planning consultant to construct a  detailed response. This meeting has provided some very useful pointers for our consultant to work on.

This isn’t just a “not in my back yard” protest. It’s about sustainability for rural communities like ours. Planning law has a basic presumption in favour of sustainable development and we believe this proposed development fails the sustainability test. Now we have a clear steer on how to work to prove that.

The application is expected to come before the Forest of Dean Planning Committee in January. 

If you haven’t signed the petition, you can do it here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-375-new-homes-in-newent

And if you have not yet left a comment on the planning application you can do that by emailing the case officer: tony.pope@fdean.gov.uk quoting application number P0584/23/OUT. Be sure to include your full name and address and state clearly whether you wish to Object, support the application or just comment. 

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