Reserve sites - how do you hold a developer to account?

Wycombe Labour today poured scorn on WDC’s terms of reference for the Reserve Sites Liaison Groups proposed by Wycombe District Council.  

Councillor Ian Bates, Leader of the Labour Group on WDC, said “The Planning Committee will be asked on Wednesday to approve terms of reference for the new “Reserve Sites Liaison Groups”.   WDC is setting up one of these liaison groups for each of the reserve sites in Wycombe which are now to be developed.   
Residents are expected to sit on these liaison groups and contribute to the proposals for developing the sites by providing local knowledge and information and by scrutinising the proposals.   
Well, that’s fine if local residents are prepared to attend in the brave hope that their contribution will influence the developers and improve the proposals.   
But the terms of reference promise more than this.  They say that “the purpose of the liaison groups is to enable people directly affected by the development to hold the Council and the landowners/developers to account.”
However, how are residents to hold the Council to account?  Residents don’t want these sites developed and have made this very clear – and still the Council voted to develop them.  In what way will the liaison groups now be enabled to call the Council to account when residents have failed so far?   
And how on earth are residents going to call the developers to account when developers can drive a coach and horse through the planning system?   The Coalition Government has changed the planning system to a Developers Charter.   Developers now decide what is to be built not the Council and not the residents.  
The only way residents can hold either the Council or the developers to account is through the ballot box in May.   
First to vote for a Government which will stand up to the developers and put local councils back in control.  And that means voting for a Labour government.  

And then to vote for Councillors who will use that control for the good of the residents – all the residents - many of whom would like to see good quality, affordable housing built to enhance the community, with facilities and proper infrastructure.   And that means voting for Labour Councillors.   
WDC’s record on building affordable housing is poor and will continue to be poor if developers continue to have control.  
The terms of reference for the liaison groups need to reflect reality.  The Liaison Groups can only be talking shops.   They can hold no-one to account and WDC is misleading residents to say otherwise.”

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