Stewart Jackson On High Trees Preservation

high_trees17:07 Thursday 4th July 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson has urged the Government to intervene over the planned demolition of a prominent building in Peterborough, to make way for student accommodation. The Victorian building, High Trees in Eastfield Road has been sold to a property company, in the face of objections from local residents. Well the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, who is of course the MP for South Cambridgeshire, promised to raise it with fellow Ministers. (TAPE)
ANDREW LANSLEY: I can imagine how he and his constituents might be alarmed by an experience of that kind. I will of course raise it with my Honourable Friends at the Department of Communities and Local Government, and encourage them to respond to him. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: Well the MP For Peterborough Stewart Jackson joins me now. Hello Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Good evening Chris.
CHRIS MANN: So, why have you brought this to the Government’s attention? Why is it so important?
STEWART JACKSON: Well the reason I think it is important is that there seems to be an anomaly in the planning legislation, which means that a local authority has to essentially give its tacit approval to the demolition of a notable building, in this case High Trees, which is a well-liked local amenity, used to be the headquarters of Family Care, but is a Victorian house in a nice residential area, rather than take it together with a planning application. In other words, the developer who owns the land can just demolish the building, and then wait for a planning application to go through. And what I’m saying is that you should take the two together, that you shouldn’t just allow the precipitous demolition of a notable local building. And the residents in that part of Peterborough are saying we need to consider the planning application in the round, and that means that we should not just allow the developer to demolish a building will-nilly.
CHRIS MANN: There’s urgent need for student accommodation in Peterborough of course, but that’s a separate issue.
STEWART JACKSON: Well there is supposedly urgent need. I’m less than convinced myself that there’s a proper financially argued business case for it on that site. I think this is a speculative site. Certainly the developer is from Oundle. We don’t know anything about them. They are obviously pitching in a speculative way for student accommodation, but it’s not right for that area. And I think that given that area has traditionally been a mix of residential, good residential accommodation, but also in this case office and commercial use, I think it’s inappropriate. It’s too dense, and once it’s demolished, it’s gone. It’s got shades of Thurston House, which was the 1858 villa that the Accent Nene Housing Association wanted to knock down at the bottom of Lincoln Road in Peterborough in 2010. We fought a campaign there against the City Council. We won that one. And I think this is very similar.
CHRIS MANN: Ok. On a separate subject, David Cameron hosting a barbecue at Downing Street this evening in the garden of course. Lovely evening. Inviting fellow Conservative MPs ahead of tomorrow’s Commons vote on whether to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Are you going?
STEWART JACKSON: Of course. I wouldn’t turn down a Prime Minister.
CHRIS MANN: And over the spare ribs or whatever, what will you be telling him?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I think there is a degree of unity in the Party over this policy tomorrow. And I think it’s about time, I resigned in 2011 as a Ministerial aide, that we should have an in/out referendum on our future relationship with the European Union. I’m absolutely delighted that the Party’s position is that now, and that my colleague James Wharton will be putting forward a Private Member’s Bill in the next twenty four hours, to give effect to that. And so we’re one big happy family. And about time too.
CHRIS MANN: But of course you are. Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough. Thank you for joining us. Enjoy your barbecue.