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Planning legislation changes could damage local democracy

22nd September 2020

The Government’s planning reforms jeopardise local democracy, and the consultation is hard to understand.

We know that there are real, long-term problems with the planning system:

  • Not delivering nearly enough affordable housing
  • Allowing sub-standard homes through Permitted Development rights
  • An accumulating backlog of unbuilt planning permissions
  • Not doing enough to respond to the Climate Emergency
  • Perpetuating car-dependent developments in an era when walkable, healthy neighbourhoods are ever more needed.

So you’d be forgiven for thinking that “the biggest shake-up of the planning system since 1947” would tackle these problems. In fact, the Planning White Paper stands to make all these problems worse, while chasing an invented notion that planning is an obstacle to progress. The proposed planning reforms set out the wrong answers to the wrong questions, and jeopardise local democracy as a result.

The following Eight Changes could demolish Local Democracy in Planning

  1. Central Government will impose mandatory, top-down housing numbers which local authorities will have no choice but to accept.
  2. In the new ‘Growth’ and ‘Renewal’ zones, developers will automatically get outline planning permission.
  3. Local Plans will no longer have development management policies, so planning applications in your area will only be judged against national policy.
  4. Your only opportunity to shape this process will be a 6-week consultation window every 5 years to comment on zoning and design codes. If you miss those, you have no say. That’s a massive reduction in your ability to influence decisions affecting your neighbourhood.
  5. Permitted Development rights mean many other changes will happen without the need for planning permission, and therefore without public scrutiny.
  6. Changes to the developer contributions regime and a new Infrastructure Levy claim to help provide affordable housing, but the small print shows it might do the opposite.
  7. The top-down housing numbers and zoning might spell the end for Neighbourhood Planning and Localism, despite some warm words.
  8. Requirements for new homes to be zero-carbon will be pushed back to 2050, undermining communities’ efforts to address the Climate Emergency.

Sign the CPRE petition…

Don’t let the government deregulate planning: SIGN HERE, before it’s too late!

Read more…

Andrew Wood, planning consultant and our friends at West Yorks CPRE have produced a YouTube video to explain the biggest threats to our local democracy

CPRE West Yorks also ran two Planning White Paper Support webinars, which they have made free to attend and available to any community groups. The presentation slides which accompanied these support webinars are available to download here. If you know of any community groups who might like some support – please share this information with them, and spread the word.

Visit the CPRE national website to see our concerns about the rules that control new building works and the need for community involvement.

Let’s work together and make sure our voices are heard!