The leader of the Liberal Democrat party has pledged to protect the process of neighbourhood planning.
On his visit to Malmesbury, ahead of the local election season Sir Ed Davey said the party was committed to neighbourhood plans – noting that it was a Lib Dem MP, Dom Foster, who came up with the concept.
“We believe in that bottom up, community first approach to planning and we’re deeply committed to defending it,” he said.
“We have voted against the Government’s planning white paper which is the source of the problems we’re hearing today.”
Earlier in the visit the area’s unitary councillor Gavin Grant told of the tilted balance elsewhere in Wiltshire, causing planning issues in the town, which he said was in the vanguard of neighbourhood planning.
Wiltshire has more neighbourhood plans than anywhere else in England, with over 30 documents made in the county.
“People want to have a say, they want to have a voice and what the Conservatives are doing is effectively taking away that local democracy, and that is not acceptable.”
Sir Ed said it was wrong when thousands of hours have been poured into creating a neighbourhood plan and it’s been adopted through a local referendum that an algorithm can ride roughshod over the plan.
Mayor of Malmesbury and Wiltshire Area Localism and Planning Group member, Campbell Ritchie said: “We know if we’re going to get actual change our voice has to be heard, and the more people supporting what we’re saying the better.”