We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Lib Dems Unite Council Against Government Plans to Silence Local Voices Over Planning

October 15, 2020 4:25 PM

HousingBedford Borough Liberal Democrats have won unanimous Council backing over opposition to Conservative Government proposals for the planning system which would reduce local communities' involvement, impose poor quality development and threaten the delivery of vital infrastructure.

All Councillors at last night's Full Council meeting voted in favour of a motion by Liberal Democrat Cllr Dean Crofts which lays out the fundamental flaws of the government's 'Planning For the Future' White Paper.

They include the introduction of a zoning system which would severely reduce local decision-making over developments, and the replacement of local developer contribution schemes for infrastructure with a national system which could leave communities without vital local facilities and services.

The plans also fail to tackle the national housing crisis adequately and undermine efforts to protect the local and wider environment through the planning system.

Commenting, Cllr Crofts said: "The purpose of this motion is to deliver a powerful message in opposition to these flawed Conservative Government plans, so we're pleased to have won support from all Councillors. The proposals would exclude local people from decisions on the future of their communities, and they fail to tackle the national housing crisis which is locking so many people out of the homes they need. Bedford Borough Council can now respond with a united voice against the Government's damaging plans and I would encourage everyone to add their voice too."

Bedford Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning, Liberal Democrat Cllr Henry Vann said: "The planning system needs to enable communities to be heard, empower local councils, deliver meaningfully affordable and sustainable housing, and deliver the right infrastructure - schools, surgeries and more - up-front before houses are sold. The government's plans fail on every count. Instead they threaten to impose unwanted, poor quality developments on local communities and weaken the voice of local councils; this botched White Paper should be abandoned."

Bedford Borough Planning Committee Chair and Oakley Ward Liberal Democrat Cllr Jon Abbott added: "As a local planning committee we will be neutered by these plans, and could see totally inappropriate development forced upon our communities by government. As a rural Councillor, I am also very concerned about proposals to effectively silence local communities at a time when they are finding their voice through neighbourhood development plans."

Under the process set out by the Government, land would be designated in one of three zoning categories: Growth, Renewal or Protection. In Growth zones, outline planning permission would automatically be granted for certain types of development.

The white paper is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future, where consultation responses can also be made. The consultation continues until October 29th.

In addition to setting out the flaws in the Government's proposals, Cllr Crofts' motion also calls for people to make their opposition known via the consultation.

The motion can be read in full with the agenda on Bedford Borough Council's website, where a full video recording of the meeting is also available: https://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=124&MId=5145&Ver=4