Penny Mordaunt MP for Portsmouth North & Cllr Donna Jones Parliamentary Candidate Portsmouth South & Conservative Group Leader, met today with Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The meeting follows the extraordinary decision taken by local councils to cease issuing planning permissions for residential properties. This has resulted in a massive backlog of planning applications and the prospect of the much needed new homes across the PUSH area not being built. Worse still the knock-on effect to the construction trade is serious with many facing job losses if this continues. Portsmouth have not issued any planning applications since 1 May, but of the other councils, they have not granted permissions since 1 January.
Across the south Hampshire area, the level of nitrates in the water supply has been raised as an issue following a ruling by the European Courts at the end of 2018. This resulted in Natural England issuing a statement that previously acceptable levels of nitrates in water must be reduced by almost half. The ruling by the European Courts has caused havoc in the Solent with delayed planning allocations exceeding 500. Councils are considering mitigation solutions but the concern is with the speed with which the solutions are being carried out.
Penny Mordaunt MP said, “Everyone wants to protect the environment, but this decision isn’t about that.
Portsmouth nitrate levels have been caused by farming decades ago. All this is doing is crushing the construction industry and failing to build much-needed homes on brownfield sites. The delays to the house building industry are already having a serious effect on our local economy. I’ve met with National house builders who have advised me they are going to have to let people go, and it will dramatically slow up the regeneration of areas like Tipner. Even worse they are pulling back from the Portsmouth area when considering development sites, this can’t continue. Today I have spoken to the Secretary of State about resolving this swiftly and speeding up the solution to get Portsmouth building again.”
Following the meeting, Cllr Donna Jones said, “Thousands of people who live in Portsmouth work in the building industry. The current approach has meant no residential planning applications have been issued in Portsmouth since the 1st of May. This can’t continue. I have met with residents and builders across Portsmouth fearful of losing their jobs and businesses. Today was about asking the Ministry for help to try and resolve this impasse and to work quickly to help Portsmouth and its residents.”
Water reduction units across the city are being considered and this is welcomed by Penny and Donna. The key is protecting the environment in a way that doesn’t affect people’s livelihoods.