Thursday 23 November 2023
Derbyshire Dales MP Sarah Dines met with Peak District National Park chief executive, Phil Mulligan to discuss a range of issues affecting local residents and constituents.
Among the topics covered were affordable housing, solar power generation and planning and development enforcement.
Mr Mulligan acknowledged the continuing need for affordable properties within the Peak District and reiterated that this remained a development priority for the National Park Authority. However, such schemes remained dependent on both suitable locations and the capital to construct them.
Sarah Dines said that she would raise the need to encourage further funding recognition from Homes England regarding the increased costs of construction in national parks compared to other parts of the country, as current levels of support do not meet these variations.
The National Park Authority will also be consulting on the geographical boundaries applying to those eligible for affordable housing as part of a revised Local Plan, potentially opening up opportunities for more people to be considered for these developments.
Phil Mulligan also confirmed the Authority’s commitment to improvements in their planning and development service, with an agreed 25% uplift in resources already making real progress across a previous backlog of enforcement cases. The Authority also recently saw its fourth successive quarter exceeding government response rates to local planning applications.
Further improvements due to come on stream include introducing online forms for the reporting of possible enforcement issues, reducing the need to additional officer time across initial investigations.
Phil Mulligan said: "I hugely value the opportunity to meet with Sarah and our other constituent MPs across the Peak District; which has one of the most complex administrative cross-sections of any national park in the UK.
"The Derbyshire Dales of course sit at the heart of that local picture and hearing first-hand residents’ concerns and about potential opportunities, means we can continue to listen as a national park where people live, work and do business.
"I look forward to continuing to work with Sarah on our progress across areas like affordable housing and ensuring the right developments for the Peak District are always supported, with a bold and ambitious Local Plan that meets the needs of everyone."
Sarah Dines MP said, "Residents have understandably strong opinions on planning in the Peak Park. I acknowledge there is still a long way to go, but I am very pleased to see improvements on enforcement times. I welcomed the opportunity to discuss my constituents’ concerns with Phil and I am pleased he is dedicated to increasingly meeting with the public, to hear directly from them. I of course took the opportunity to press upon Phil the importance that the Bakewell visitor centre remains open and that a plan is drawn up so that the centres continue to function beyond the funding from the anonymous donor.
Consistency in the enforcement of planning is vital and I very much welcomed the opportunity to discuss this and other improvements with Phil."