Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the Government’s proposals to reform the planning system. I share your concerns that the measures outlined will remove important safeguards in the planning system and allow large developers to ignore quality, affordability and sustainability.
The Government’s White Paper, Planning for the Future, was published on 6th August alongside a consultation on its proposals to streamline and modernise the planning process. The aim of the reforms is to simplify and accelerate the planning process, yet critics have warned that a move to lighter regulation could lead to the development of the next generation of slum housing.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has criticised the proposals and said the measures will do “almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes”.
While I agree that the planning system needs to be reformed, I am concerned that the Government’s White Paper will remove the power of local communities to say no to big developers who take the easy option of building on the green belt. A further proposal to exempt developers from paying fees as a condition for receiving planning permission, known as section 106 payments, could also lead to councils being denied vital funding for building schools, clinics and community infrastructure.
Ministers have said that the current planning system is outdated and acts as a barrier to building the homes the country needs. However, analysis from the Local Government Association finds that over one million homes granted planning permission in the last decade have not been built.
Instead of side-lining local councils and communities – that are best placed to make decisions about planning in their areas – I believe the Government should instead focus on building the high-quality, genuinely affordable and environmentally sustainable housing that is needed.
An online consultation on the Government’s White Paper is accepting responses until 29th October 2020. I will follow its outcome closely, press Ministers to reconsider their proposals and ensure that communities are at the heart of the planning process.