If you want an example of how anti-development councillors are harming the public, look no further than Basingstoke. There, contrary to the wishes of the Coalition government, the council seems determined to prevent any significant house building at all.
For those utterly hostile to new housing that might sound OK, until you realise the massive waste of local taxpayers’ money this has involved.
Back in 1995, the council bought a 2000-acre plot of land at Manydown for the purpose of building new houses for £10 million. It paid a premium for the land because it was land destined for development – previously farmland with little in the way of natural interest.
Now the council has decided that it won’t allow any development on Manydown at all, and is proposing – ludicrously – to force any new housing into the Loddon Valley. This is a place designated as a “Site of Importance for Nature Conservation” and which is protected by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The council’s position is ridiculous, like proposing that coal-fire power stations be built in the Lake District or that we demolish Stonehenge.
So why is it taking this position? Well, two of the councillors living near Manydown are being the most vocal in their campaign against development. Perhaps they are worried that they will lose their seats. If so, it’s a pity, because development done right can actually improve local areas, bringing prettier neighbourhoods and better amenities.