WATCH: Warwick and Leamington MP debates fairness of councils granting themselves planning permission after HQ move approval

Matt Western MP
Matt Western MP

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western debated the fairness of councils granting themselves planning permission after Warwick District Council approved their own HQ move.

The Labour MP has been critical of the plans from the outset.

And following the decision to grant the HQ move to Covent Garden car park on Tuesday January 9, Mr Western continued to challenge the council by holding a public debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday January 10 over the fairness of this decision, and other councils granting themselves planning permission for certain developments.

During the debate, which involved housing undersecretary Jake Berry MP, Mr Western said the plan was an ‘insult to our residents’.

Mr Western said: “It is fundamentally about the question of the use of public money and how an authority uses planning legislation for its own ends, and indeed how it uses public money to build, in this example, a new council office at a time of austerity.

"There are question marks over the transparency of the planning process as it stands, and it’s demonstrated very clearly here how the viability assessment can be withheld on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, despite the huge and clear public interest involved.

"I urge Warwick District Council to rethink, and the Minister (Jake Berry MP) here today to ask them to do the same. I would ask the Minister also the broader issues raised by this particular case, which has significance across the country, and will be replicated elsewhere.”

After the decision was made on Tuesday, Cllr Andrew Mobbs said: "We are very pleased with the decision to approve the plans which will deliver a major economic boost to Leamington and the wider district.

“Covent Garden has long been in need of major investment and this scheme will create a landmark development fitting to this key Leamington town centre location.

“This has never been about politics, it has been about economic common sense and regeneration. The reality is that the new Council HQ will save over £300,000 a year in running costs, funds which we can use to maintain or improve the vital and high-quality services we provide.

“The inevitable disruption that the closure of the existing car parks will cause while new car park is built has also been a major concern to many people. In addition to what was agreed by Planning Committee, I can confirm that further proposals for temporary alternative parking will be brought forward to our Executive as a priority."