AN MP in Worcestershire has blasted the planning system - saying new housing and job creation is stalling due to bureaucracy.
Harriett Baldwin, who represents West Worcestershire, used a Westminster Hall debate today to voice her frustration.
It comes amid continuing delays in getting the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) agreed because inspector Roger Clews wants it to contain more homes.
Under the blueprint, 23,200 new homes are planned for by 2030, but Mr Clews has ordered councils in Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon to revise it upwards. Mrs Baldwin said she has looked at data from other local plans around the UK and found that 80 have yet to be signed off.
She told planning minister Nick Boles: “My first question to the minister is, is this delay in the time it is taking from submitting the plan to having it found ‘sound’ because of a shortage, nationally, of planning inspectors?”
She also asked if it was a “deliberate strategy” to delay approving plans in the hope it might encourage more house building.
Mr Boles agreed to look into her questions and give her a written answer.
After the debate, Mrs Baldwin said: “My own thesis is that this long delay and period of uncertainty is actually hampering growth by creating costly legal battles between communities and developers.
“The sooner planning inspectors can be asked to give weight to our emerging local plan, the better.”
In Mr Clews’ findings during a public examination, he said the councils are guilty of “fundamental shortcomings” in not planning for more homes.
Although he sits on the fence in terms of which way to go, figures of 25,300 to 32,000 are both mentioned in his report.
The councils are now working on a revised figure, and when finalised it will trigger a fresh inspection by Mr Clews.
The SWDP also earmarks land across all three districts for 25,000 new jobs.
It has cost at least £500,000 to put together so far, but cannot be adopted unless the councils agree a new homes figure that is also acceptable to Mr Clews.