Kilmardinny development condemned in Commons debate


Jo raised her opposition to the Kilmardinny development in Parliament this week.

In the last House of Commons debate before the Christmas recess, Jo highlighted the injustices of a planning system which allows unelected officials to overrule local councils on important planning issues.

Citing the proposed development of Kilmardinny, she said, “It does not serve local interests well when the views of the people who know best – those who represent a local area – are overturned. I firmly believe that the Kilmardinny development as currently proposed should not and must not go ahead.”

She criticised the development proposals for contravening the Local Plan and offering insufficient benefits to the community.

Commenting, Jo said:

“The Lower Kilmardinny development is one of the issues that is most often raised with me by constituents, who are almost unanimously opposed to it. There is a real sense that the system has failed local people and democracy is not working for them.

“There are cases such as this up and down the country, and I truly believe that the planning system must change to reflect the need for greater democratic accountability at the local level.”

The text of Jo’s comments about the Kilmardinny development from yesterday’s House of Commons debate appear below.

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): It is sometimes said that all politics is local. There have recently been various controversial local issues in my constituency. The Kilmardinny development is proposed for a piece of land between Milngavie and Bearsden in my constituency. Much of the land, such as the old bus station site, has been derelict for some years, although other parts of it have been used for golf and other purposes. People accept that the land should be developed, and the local council’s local plan suggested that 330 houses would be appropriate, but a proposal came forward for 550 houses, which is clear overdevelopment. Despite the proposal being overwhelmingly rejected by the local council more than two years ago, the decision will ultimately be taken by one unelected official, the reporter.

I see other hon. Members nodding. They will have had such experiences in their constituencies. In the case in East Dunbartonshire, the community gain is limited and the traffic improvements will probably only counter the increase in traffic problems that would come from the impact of an additional 550 houses on local roads. The £10 million planning gain for a new local leisure centre does not cover the £17 million cost, at least, of building such a centre. If the reporter recommends that the scheme go ahead under those conditions, the council could be put under pressure to accept a development that would leave it out of pocket.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way; she has had an extremely long day. I saw her very early this morning on television, and she was working late last night. In Wellingborough we have exactly the same issue. People are against the Wellingborough North development, the council is against it, and lo and behold, someone from the Government who knows nothing about it can overturn it. Does she agree that these decisions should be left to local councils?

Jo Swinson: Indeed. We also need some kind of appeals system. I am frustrated by the way the system works at present. It does not serve local interests well when the views of the people who know best – those who represent a local area – are overturned. I firmly believe that the Kilmardinny development as currently proposed should not and must not go ahead.

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