Bucks Council asks Government to 'rethink' planning reforms

Buckinghamshire Council has asked the Government to ‘think again’ on its plans to reform national planning policy.

In August, the Government presented its draft plans to overhaul the planning system in a white paper titled ‘Planning for the Future’ and invited local authorities to participate in a consultation to share views on the proposals.

The streamlining of the proposed system could automate some parts of the planning process, taking control away from local authorities as central Government looks to achieve national housing targets of about 300,000 per year.

Maidenhead Civic Society took issue with the plans in August, saying that they could ‘threaten local democracy.’

Responding to the consultation, Bucks Council also took issue with some elements of the plans, despite ‘welcoming some of the proposed changes.’

Amongst its concerns were that it would reduce local democratic accountability by over-centralising decision making, reduce engagement in Local Plans and reduce properly funded affordable housing by asking local authorities to borrow money to forward-fund new homes.

It also stated that it would put a burden on council resources by not requiring developers to pay all their costs up front.

It did, however, praise the way it would improve design and local authority co-operation with other public bodies.

Cllr Warren Whyte, cabinet member for planning, said: “The council meticulously scrutinised the Government’s consultation paper and our response not only raises some very important points with the Government but also provides alternative suggestions that we feel would benefit our residents and the planning process overall.

“We hope our response highlights our areas of concern and will assist the Government to develop a planning system for the future that is democratic, fair and simple to use and encourages good quality, sustainable development that enhances our area.”

In a foreword to the consultation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the current planning system means there are ‘nowhere near enough homes in the right places’ and the Government paper proposes to ‘tear it down and start again’.

He added it would create a planning system that is that is ‘simpler, clearer and quicker to navigate, delivering results in weeks and months rather than years and decades’.

To read the full Buckinghamshire Council response to the consultation, visit bit.ly/36q2eRx

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