Number of new homes being built in Harborough is the MP's top priority in 2020 - and here's what he wants to do about it
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is vowing to put controversial new estates springing up all over the district under the microscope in 2020.
Mr O’Brien pledged to put new developments at the top of his list of priorities as they begin to overwhelm his email inbox.
The Conservative politician spoke out as sprawling new housing schemes spark controversy in Market Harborough as well as surrounding villages.
Talking about his action plan for the year ahead, Mr O’Brien, 41, told the Harborough Mail: “I’m going to be stepping up my focus on housing developments going up right across the district.
“I’ll be looking at planning reform and everything to do with bad practices in the building industry.
“One big set of issues revolves around how many new homes get built in Harborough and where for a start.”
The Yorkshire-born dad-of-two added: “Another range of issues concerns the whole way that builders behave during the construction process.
“I’ll be doing all I can to protect and stand up for both established residents and people moving into new homes.”
Mr O’Brien said it was too easy for big housebuilders to ignore and breach tough planning controls imposed by Harborough District Council.
“We have to look at how these conditions are flouted by developers.
“At the moment the process of taking action if the builder steps out of line is too complicated, expensive and lengthy,” he insisted.
“The procedure should be made simpler and far more straightforward.
“The onus should be thrown back on to the developer to show that they are behaving, not the other way round.”
The Tory MP also called for residents to be given a greater say in whether proposed blueprints get the go-ahead.
“The system’s too legalistic.
“It could certainly be made a lot more even-handed and balanced between the developer and the community,” said Mr O’Brien, who lives just outside Harborough.
“Local people should be given the right to appeal if the development they’re objecting to is approved.”
He also called for a much more intense spotlight to be shone on controversial spiralling ‘fleeceholding’ fees slapped on private estate housebuyers.
“We need far more quality control when it comes to sneaky hidden charges being imposed on victims.
“This has been a problem I’ve investigated in Wigston.
“It’s now raised its ugly head on the Farndon Fields development in Harborough,” said Mr O’Brien, who is hosting a visit to the area by Treasury housing and planning officials on Thursday January 30.
Married to a hospital doctor, he stretched his majority by almost 5000 votes to 17,278 in last month’s dramatic general election.
“I’m delighted to have been re-elected as MP for Harborough – I love this area.
“I want to thank all the people who voted for me,” said Mr O’Brien.
“But I also want to reassure people who supported Labour, Liberal Democrats and others that I care about the same issues you do.
“I’ve just met all my fellow Leicestershire MPs and we’ll be fighting to win our county a bigger slice of national government funding.
“Historically we’re the lowest-funded county in the country and that’s got to change.
“If we were to receive the same level of funding as London we’d pocket an extra £350 million – and that can’t be right.”
As for education, he’s managed to win over six per cent more funding per pupil at more than 20 primary schools throughout Harborough.
“I’m particularly determined to get behind small and village primary schools which face high fixed costs,” said Mr O’Brien.
And he’s thrilled to welcome a massive £450 million government cash injection into hospitals in Leicester.
“Thousands of people across Harborough will benefit from a brilliant new maternity hospital as well as a dedicated new children's hospital being built in Leicester,” said Mr O’Brien, whose baby son Arthur was born at Leicester General Hospital in October.
“The intensive care unit and operating theatres at Leicester Royal Infirmary will be totally refurbished and brought bang up to date.
“And another £50 million is being ploughed into improving and upgrading Kettering General Hospital.
“So all in all we all have a lot of positive things to look forward to throughout Harborough in 2020.”