The Planning White Paper is a Disaster for Our Communities

Cllr Tony Vickers argues the Government's White Paper on planning will not achieve any of the objectives it sets out.

"As this Council starts its public consultation on a new Local Plan for how and where it intends to accommodate new homes and employment needed by 2037, we also await how the Government will respond to comments on its Planning White Paper. So negative has been the response to Government, from all political parties including its own councillors, that our officers are taking no notice of its proposals.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which has a Conservative majority, supports the Government’s aspirations for a “more efficient well-resourced planning system that supports local involvement in creating great places”. But almost anyone reading its proposals would find it very hard to see what they will do to achieve this.

Liberal Democrats give eight reasons why we think the White Paper is a disaster for our communities.

  1. Almost all policy will be set by central government, by MPs and civil servants not by local councillors or their planning officers.
  2. Developers will be allowed not to provide any ‘affordable’ homes on sites of less than 40 homes, whereas currently we can demand some on sites as small as 5 homes – the majority.
  3. Local councillors will be prevented from making decisions on most developments – and scarcely even have a say in them.
  4. Locally determined ‘developer contributions’ towards the costs of necessary infrastructure will be scrapped and replaced by a National Infrastructure Levy into which councils will have to bid.
  5. Climate and biodiversity action will not be a key priority.
  6. Government will set the crude target for total new homes each Council must build.
  7. Each Authority will be crudely zoned into ‘Growth’, ‘Renewal’ and ‘Protected’ areas.
  8. The ‘Duty to Cooperate’ that requires West Berkshire Council to work constructively on spatial planning with its neighbours (Reading, Wokingham, Hampshire, Oxfordshire & Wiltshire councils) will be scrapped.

This has nothing to do with the EU and BREXIT. However it makes one wonder what the point of “Take Back Control” was. Most people I know would rather be free from Whitehall control over their lives – or Westminster’s cronyism – than Brussels.

Cllr Dr Tony Vickers

Liberal Democrat (Wash Common)

Shadow Spokesperson for Planning, Housing and Transport"

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