A key focus of the Society is to keep watch on the weekly planning applications
for the town of Maldon, especially its historic centre, and also its immediate surroundings including Langford and Heybridge.
As well as trying to ensure our many buildings of historic or public interest are protected, we seek to ensure that any new developments are appropriate to their visual context and the needs of the town.
The new Prime Minster, Liz Truss, has named Simon Clarke, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, as her new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). At 37, he is currently the youngest member of Truss’s Cabinet. He becomes the sixth person to fill the role since 2018. He is a qualified solicitor and has previously served as a junior minister at the Ministry of Housing in 2020.
His appointment has been generally welcomed by the housebuilding fraternity, but many have wondered if it could herald yet more changes and amendments to the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill currently before parliament. Commenting on the Bill, Liz Truss has said “It is too easy for local councils to be overruled by the Planning Inspectorate and that is certainly an issue that I expect my Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities (Simon Clarke) to look at”.
This commitment appears at odds with elements of planning reform proposed by former housing secretary Michael Gove earlier this year – which were described by critics as an attempt to “radically centralise planning decision-making” and “would allow the housing secretary to grant permission for contentious developments and bypass the planning system entirely with no right for the public to be consulted as part of this process”.
So, it is not yet clear whether Truss and Clarke will look to pass the bill in its current form. If the government did review and change its proposed planning reforms, it would be the second time since then-housing secretary Robert Jenrick unveiled the original white paper on planning in August 2020.
Very little happening locally. Only minor applications for planning consent recently, although you will see in the High Street report that the local economy, with some new and relocated businesses, seems to be as vibrant as ever, although it will always depend upon your local support for its continued survival.
One of the very pleasant tasks that befalls the Maldon Society is to be on the judging panel for the annual Conservation & Design Awards and this year there were again several projects nominated that demonstrated good design and conservation, and pride in a ‘job well done’. The panel has met and drawn up a shortlist of sites to visit in October to get a more detailed picture of those schemes that look like potential winners, and we shall report the outcomes at a later date.
The Maldon Society will continue to scrutinise the proposals for local developments and alert you to those that will most impact upon our environment or the vitality of the town.