The Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Taylor of Goss Moor has authored a pamphlet published today by Policy Exchange, ‘Garden Villages: Empowering localism to solve the housing crisis‘. He proposes that new local development corporations should have the power to confiscate land, with compensation at just 150 per cent of the agricultural land value, to build new “garden villages” of up to 5,000 homes.
What a pity that Lord Taylor fails to mention in his pamphlet that he is a director of Mayfield Market Towns Limited, a developer which has been trying to build a “new market town” of up to 10,000 houses in open countryside in my West Sussex constituency. Mayfield’s strategy has been to upset two local plans being prepared by Mid Sussex and Horsham District Councils, both of which have rejected the new town and allocated housing elsewhere. The developer’s tactics have included leafleting another area facing development telling the residents that Mayfield offered a better solution.
The company faced a serious reversal when the Planning Inspector recently rejected their scheme, noting that “significant concerns have been raised about the sustainability of the location of the Mayfield Market Town site”. The Inspector also warned that “The deliverability of the preferred 10,000 dwelling option, with employment development, within two local authority areas without their support, and in the face of strong opposition from two local MPs, parish councils and local people, including land owners, is also an issue of concern.”
So, unable to persuade two local authorities or the Planning Inspector to back his scheme, and unable to persuade all of the local landowners to agree to sell, Taylor falls back on trying to persuade the Government that compulsory purchase is the way forward. This is what he means by “empowering localism”.