Lib Dem councillors are calling for the Conservative Government’s planning reforms to be dropped, with a greater focus on affordable housing and the environment while protecting the voice of communities over local developments.
At September's Full Council meeting, councillors Paul Hodgkinson and Paul Baker are seeking support for their call to scrap the Government’s planning bill – proposals which have become known as the “Developer’s Charter”.
The Government’s upcoming Planning Bill would mean:
- Land in England carved into zones for housebuilding
- Automatic planning permission granted
- Power handed to developers to build on green spaces
- Residents’ right to oppose developments removed
- Changes to affordable housing quotas, meaning each year the number of affordable houses delivered in Gloucestershire would fall by hundreds.
Commenting on the motion, proposer Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said:
‘The planning reforms aim to rip up the existing rules, with a focus on automatic consent in areas earmarked for development. Such proposals would see our communities lose any right to influence developments in their neighbourhoods or on their street, creating a “Developer’s Charter.”
‘Our residents deserve to have their voices protected, a view that I would hope is shared by Gloucestershire councillors of all political parties. Local councils have a real chance to force the Government to press the reset button if we present a united front.’
Seconder of the motion, Cllr Paul Baker, said:
‘These proposals will be a disaster for generations to come. Developers will be given the chance to ride roughshod over the views of their communities and local councils, who would have no right to comment on housing in areas earmarked for development.
‘We know that the Conservative Party is well supported by housing developers, but Conservative councillors need to remember that they are elected to serve their local residents – so I hope they will want to support this motion.’
Following a comprehensive debate at the Full Council meeting, Cllrs Hodgkinson and Baker accepted amendments from the Conservative party, and the following motion was passed:
The Council notes:
- The concerns expressed by communities, MPs and Councils over the Government’s Planning Reforms.
- That districts are the primary planning authorities, and that under current legislation the County Council is only responsible for Minerals and Waste Planning
- That there is a real need to deliver more homes in our county, so that future generations can enjoy the security of owning their own homes
The Council is concerned that:
- The Government is not using the Planning White Paper to improve environmental outcomes from planning and building standards fast enough. This is at odds with the declaration of a climate emergency by many local authorities, including Gloucestershire County Council.
- The Government hasn’t addressed the need for a stronger strategic spatial planning approach, especially in two-tier area, to ensure we deliver sustainable communities
The Council believes that:
- Residents have the right to a say over developments that will change the area they live in.
- Local councils, in consultation with their businesses and residents, are best placed to understand the issues in their area and respond with a housing strategy tailored to that area.
The Council calls for the Leader of the Council to write to the Government to ask that the White Paper is amended to:
- Implement stronger controls to ensure individuals making decisions on planning applications are not connected either financially or personally with the developers or related parties to the application.
- Include a mechanism to ensure proper Strategic Spatial Planning, with county councils fully involved
- Ensure that County Councils are involved in the setting and apportionment of s106/CIL, to ensure sufficient funding for key infrastructure such as schools and roads
- Include a series of environmental standards to which new developments must comply with to ensure that local and national Net Zero Carbon Emission targets are achieved and biodiversity standards are protected.