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Theresa May slams 'ill-conceived' Government planning reform proposals

Theresa May has called for a Government rethink on its ‘ill-conceived’ proposals to overhaul the planning system.

In August, proposed planning reforms were put forward by the Government that would grant automatic permission to certain developments that fit within a ‘design code’.

Automated processes would also see control taken away from local authorities as the Government seeks to meet national housing targets of about 300,000 per year.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, October 8, the former Prime Minister voiced her opposition to the plans.

She said: We need to build more homes; the Government are absolutely right about that.

“But the problem with the algorithm on housing numbers is that it does not guarantee the building of a single extra home and, far from levelling up, it forces more investment into London and the south.

“That is a mechanistic a pproach and it is ill-conceived.”

Speaking specifically about how the Royal Borough would be affected, she added: “For the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the housing target will go up by 21 per cent.

“Given a previous planning inspector’s decision, most of those homes will be in Maidenhead, not in the Windsor part of the constituency, and there is already an implication that greenbelt needs to be built on.”

The plans, presented in a white paper titled ‘Planning For the Future’, would see the Government work with local authorities and residents to identify ‘growth’ areas which are suitable for major development, ‘renewal’ areas that are suitable for some development, and ‘protected’ areas, where development will be restricted.

When these areas have been determined, local authorities will have limited ability to prevent development, particularly in the ‘growth areas’.

The Maidenhead Civic Society has stated how the plans ‘raise concerns’ over local democracy, and Mrs May echoed the same sentiment in the Commons.

She said: “We need to ensure that that planning system sees the right number of homes being built in the right places.

“But we will not do that by removing local democracy, cutting the number of affordable homes that are built and building over rural areas. Yet that is exactly what these reforms will lead to.

“The Government need to think again, and they need to understand the impact that their proposals will have throughout the country.”

A department of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said:

“The reforms in our Planning for the Future White paper put community involvement and control at the centre, with local people consulted from the very beginning when plans are developed.

“We are reflecting closely on the feedback from our recent consultation on the Local Housing Need formula and councils will still need to consider local circumstances to decide how many homes should be delivered. Green belt protection and enhancement will remain, in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.”

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