Cllr David Sheppard and Cllr John Williams – Labour’s Chair and Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee at Rotherham Council – have written to the Government opposing the Tories proposed changes to the Planning system.
In August, the Government published their ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper document outlining the most significant changes to the Planning system in England for a generation. Cllr Sheppard and Cllr Williams have raised our concerns to the Government about these proposals to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP.
Cllr David Sheppard, Labour’s Chair of the Planning Committee at Rotherham Council, has said:
“I am concerned about the Government’s proposals as they appear to be removing local democratic oversight from the planning system. By giving developers automatic permission, this will severely reduce the voice of communities at a local level in the process.
“The removal of section 106 contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy in favour of a national scheme also threatens the ability to provide affordable housing and essential infrastructure improvements to our schools, roads and other vital assets in our borough.
“The Local Government Association (LGA) have highlighted how nationally 9 in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, but more than a million homes given planning permission over the last decade are yet to be built. This serves to highlight that the problem of not building enough housing across the country lies with the large building companies, not with the planning process or local authorities.”
We are concerned the Tories changes will have a big impact on local democracy and community involvement in the Planning system at a local level. We fear these changes will weaken the voice of local councillors and residents to have our say over the big developments in our communities.
These proposals could also take influence away from local communities and give greater power to the big developers. By moving to a system of zonal designation of different types of development, developers will essentially enjoy almost automatic planning permission where their plans meet the outline of the relevant zone.
The Tories changes also propose to replace Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges. The money raised through these charges help local councils contribute to affordable housing in their areas and to bring about additional funding for local services impact by developments, such as road improvements or money for school places in the local community.
Cllr John Williams, Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee at Rotherham Council, has also said:
“I have grave concerns about the Tories Planning reforms – these changes could weaken local democracy and take away the chance for locally elected councillors and residents to have our say on the big developments in our communities.
“By moving to a system of almost automatic Planning permission, the Tories will be handing significant power to big developers at the cost of local democratic and community oversight in the Planning system.”