Cllr Allan Hepple
Cllr Allan Hepple

The government’s new planning reforms will drive a bulldozer through local councils’ and local people’s planning rights. They are effectively bypassing local democracy.

The government claim that this will speed up the planning process. However, developers are sitting on land where over one million homes in the country already have planning permission and are yet to see a single  brick laid. 

With over nine in 10 planning applications agreed by councils it is hard to see how the planning system is really as broken as the government say.

The new system will require local council to divide their areas into three zones. National Parks and Green Belt land will be protected from future development.

But in the Growth Zone developers will be given automatic planning permission to build homes, schools, hospitals and offices. This at a stroke will strip local councils and local people of any control over new homes built in their local communities.

Northumberland County Council’s shadow cabinet member for housing and planning Allan Hepple said: “In Northumberland, local people and some 150 town and parish councils will no longer have any say or influence on planning applications in their area through their local council. 

“The government have robbed them of their long-held rights. 

“Areas like Northumberland are facing a shortage of affordable homes which is particularly acute in rural areas of the county where house prices are often beyond local residents’ financial means forcing them to move away. 

“Over half the country’s affordable homes are provided by Section 106 agreements where the council can demand developers to build a proportion of their new homes as affordable homes.

“This ability will be lost in these changes and there appears little confidence in the replacement for S106 delivering new affordable housing.”

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