Agenda item

Proposed Planning Reforms


The Committee considered the report presented by the Business Manager – Planning Policy & Infrastructure which sought to advise Members of the two sets of proposed reforms to the planning system.  The report also sought Members approval for appropriate consultation responses for submission.


The report set out the timeline for the proposed consultations and changes therefrom.  Attached as Appendix A to the report was the White Paper which proposed a complete remodelling of the planning system with the approach listed in paragraph 3.1 of the report.  Appendix B to the report set out the proposed changes to the current planning system which would be put into operation in advance of any changes arising from the White Paper.


Paragraph 5.0 of the report set out the key issues which Officers felt should be highlighted to Members.  The proposed detailed response to the White Paper consultation were listed in Appendix C to the report with Appendix D listing the proposed responses to the potential changes to the current planning system.


In considering the detailed report the Chairman proposed and it was seconded that 2 additional recommendations be added as follows:


1.       That a report be taken to the October Meeting of Full Council to offer all Members the opportunity of debating the proposed planning reforms arising from the White Paper; and

2.       That a letter be written to the Secretary of State on the Council’s views on the White Paper.


A Member referred specifically to the issue of housing provision, stating that the Council had granted planning permission for housing but that the developers had not acted upon that and the houses had not been built.  He added that the Council’s delivery of affordable housing and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) provision was to be applauded but that the proposed changes to the planning system could be viewed as ‘a kick in the teeth’ to positive and well performing local authorities and the work they had undertaken. 


The same Member commented that he hoped that the consultation would be changed quickly and that the proposals were almost a nationalisation of the planning function.   He had hoped that there would be some clarity provided on some issues so that the Council could respond accordingly but this had not been received and the total lack of detail remained.  In relation to the delivery of affordable housing provision, he commented that the proposals would likely result in less affordable housing being delivered and that the abolition of local CILs for a nationally set level was naïve.  He referred to the ‘beautiful development’ wording in the consultation, querying what that actually meant and that it was open to huge interpretation.  He stated that the published consultations had a total disregard for the work undertaken and had no benefit for the residents of the District.  The Member ended by stating that current planning legislation was being ripped up to be potentially replaced by a system that was not fit for purpose. 

In relation to viability of a development which included affordable housing, a Member stated that this would likely result in little, if any, provision, adding that any contribution would only be paid to the Council when the development was finalised.  He added that it was doubtful that a developer would finish the development so that contribution costs could be avoided. 


The Director – Planning & Growth stated that as a professional planner he had serious concerns at the proposed changes.  He added that the proposed affordable housing figures had the ability to prevent regenerative development going ahead and potentially the Council would be unable to intervene on important matters for up to a period of 10 years. 


Members thanked the Officers for their detailed report with a Member adding that the proposed changes could be seen as a ‘developers’ charter’.  A Member also referred to the lack of reference to Neighbourhood Plans, stating that any decision making was being taken away from them.


AGREED      (unanimously) that:


(a)     the proposed consultation responses attached at Appendices C and D be approved for submission in response to the consultations, subject to any additional comments;


(b)     a report be taken to the October Meeting of Full Council to offer all Members the opportunity of debating the proposed planning reforms arising from the White Paper; and


(c)     a letter be written to the Secretary of State setting out the Council’s views on the White Paper.


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