Brandon Lewis – Minister from Mars

Brandon Lewis Planning Minister

Brandon Lewis
Planning Minister

I am baffled to understand what planet Brandon Lewis is currently inhabiting.  Has he taken a Branson trip to Mars?  I am not sure they are on sale yet?  When he suggests UK residents are now whooping with joy at the prospect of new housing close to them, I think he is either being disingenuous or plain daft.  I would like to invite him to visit the villages I used to represent as a County Councillor – Adderbury, Bloxham and Bodicote.  They are all fine Cotswold villages; all have featured in the Domesday Book and all have had housing numbers and styles imposed on them in the last few years that are excessive, fail to recognise the organic growth that has characterised them and where the style is urban, with miserable little boxes crowded cheek-by-jowl on the fields around the edges of these villages.

Far from feeling welcoming of this housing and in control of its development, villagers in Adderbury, Bloxham and Bodicote feel utterly helpless in the face of a relentless attack by developers on every piece of green space around the edge of these villages and the complicity of the Planning Inspectorate in supporting these developers.

Bloxham has suffered the most with six ghastly estates, built or about to be built, entirely out of keeping with the village vernacular and bolted onto every green edge the village had enjoyed.  They are the sort of little boxes you would see in Banbury, Bicester, Bradford, Bolton or Brighton, tightly packed together with inadequate living space; insufficient storage space for the growing quantum of physical possessions the modern family craves and a garage that is either too small for anything bigger than a bicycle or a mini or is just filled up with the belongings that won’t fit in the tiny house.

I doubt you will accept my invitation to visit, Mr Lewis, because I suspect you are well aware of the heat of the reception you are likely to receive.  The people of Bloxham are pretty law abiding and certainly long suffering so I doubt they would want to string you up from one of their lamp posts but they might be tempted to see if you would learn anything after being locked up for a couple of hours in a garage on a new estate.  You would learn how small it is for any modern 4X4 vehicle and you would realise how inadequate is the storage in modern houses when you saw the freezer, wheelie bins, suit cases, rowing machine, family bicycles, tool boxes, ladders, garden tools, surplus large toys all stack up where you might expect to see a family car!

When the residents granted freedom from his garage lock-up to Mr Lewis, perhaps he would take a moment to reflect on the consequences of the politically correct brain washing of the planners that has added to the inadequacy of modern housing.  He would see large quotas of “affordable housing” occupied by single mothers with children, no job and an inadequate and occasional bus service to the town.  He would see money lavished on garish, plastic play areas that no-one uses and that add to the urbanising nature of these estates.  He would see money spent on footpaths to bus stops when 95% of the population need their car to get to work via the school run or whatever their routine might be.  He would see garages and parking spaces wholly inadequate for a modern lifestyle with estate roads designed to discourage parking when it is the only option for many.

If he spoke to some home owners he might hear of the shock and horror after investing half a million pounds in a new home only to find that the house next to it is owned by a housing association, built to a higher standard than his own and occupied by a tenant from hell.  Typically, she will be covered in tattoos, with ironmongery embedded in her face, with a noisy brood of children from an assortment of fathers who are rarely seen but a constant procession of men who might add  to that illustrious group.  A caricature, I am sure and unfair to those on benefit who want to escape the dependency culture but no consolation to the house owner who finds himself next to such a tenant from hell.

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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