Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, held a ?Council of War? with CASE following the top legal advice given to North Herts District Council that could force a review of plans to build up to 10,000 houses in the Green Belt west of Stevenage. At the meeting Peter Lilley agreed to write to the Planning Minister, Beverley Hughes, asking her how the government will respond to this very strong legal advice.
Peter Lilley said: ” I originally wrote to the Minister in May suggesting that the government?s new planning advice would require a review of the whole Stevenage expansion plan. The QC specifically quotes and criticises her reply to me. He says her reply is ?the antithesis of what PPG3 is seeking?; ?it is illogical?; and ?the course suggested in the letter cannot be?appropriate??.
“It is rare for a top lawyer to be so critical of a Minister. I have therefore asked her to review the government?s position immediately. I have also put down a Parliamentary Question to establish whether Ministers or their officials at GOEast took legal advice before writing their original reply.
“This advice gives the government a chance to think again about its approval of building in the Green Belt which conflicts with its new enthusiasm for building on developed land and which is as damaging to the government?s popularity as it is to the environment. I shall continue to do all in my power to get them to change their mind.?