2,000 councillors call for a rethink on planning reforms

More than 2,000 councillors have called on the government to abandon the most controversial elements of its proposed changes to the planning system.

In an open letter to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, the councillors warn that the proposed changes ‘could radically reduce protections for nature, local green spaces and fail to tackle climate change’.

The letter, which has also been signed by Friends of the Earth and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), also says the changes will lead to ‘an unacceptable loss of local democracy, scrutiny and accountability and worse outcomes for communities’.

The government’s planning reforms have already faced heavy criticism from Conservative MPs and the Local Government Association (LGA).

A recent report by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has warned that the proposals are ‘lacking in vital detail’.

But housing minister, Christopher Pincher has defended the controversial plans, which he said would bring about ‘systemic and cultural change’.

A recent poll off Conservative backbench MPs, conducted by Savanta Comres, also found that more than half of Conservative MPs (55%) on the backbenches are considering opposing the government’s upheaval of the planning system as set out in the planning white paper.

More than three-quarters (78%) of MPs surveyed think it is important that local councils should choose and prioritise the most suitable development sites.

‘The message from MPs, communities and now over 2,000 councillors is clear but it is not too late for the government to rethink its controversial upheaval of the planning system,’ said CPRE chief executive, Crispin Truman.

‘Planning done well can create the affordable and well-designed homes that communities are crying out for. We can create low carbon and nature friendly homes, with an abundance of green space on their doorsteps, all connected by low carbon public transport. Investing in a locally-led democratic planning system, that empowers local councils to create these places, should be the government’s top priority,’ he added.

‘We stand with these councillors in urging ministers to work with us to develop and deliver a better set of planning reforms that can actually deliver our country’s environmental, economic and social objectives.’

Photo Credit – Borevina (Pixabay)

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