Members of East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) met recently to discuss and agree the Council’s official response to the Government’s Planning for the Future white paper consultation.
The Government’s paper contains 24 separate proposals or proposed changes to the planning system and the white paper is divided into three main ‘pillars’:
- Pillar 1 - Planning for development, proposing a return to the traditional zonal/land use planning.
- Pillar 2 - Planning for beautiful and sustainable places, proposing an increased role for design codes.
- Pillar 3 - Planning for infrastructure and connected places, proposing a simplified national infrastructure levy.
During the meeting, responses to all proposals were discussed with councillors sharing concerns on particular elements of the White Paper, including:
- Ensuring Protected Areas remain protected from inappropriate development through the planning system
- Preserving the Duty to Co-Operate which ensures that building on boundaries is coordinated through rigorous engagement with neighbouring local authorities
- Ensuring large open spaces for children to play continue to be incorporated into developments, particularly given that the pandemic has underlined the need for outdoor space
- The need for local infrastructure to be a key consideration in any development and for it to be properly funded
Cllr David Brackenbury, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee said:
“This committee had a robust and thorough debate about these proposals which are causing us significant concern. It’s vital that we protect what is working well in the planning system and that we build on that success.
“I am concerned that the Government’s approach to zone development could impede delivery of strategic infrastructure.
“The Government’s proposals appear to raise more questions than answers. This Council is particularly concerned that these could have the effect of side-lining local democracy and the role of elected Members in effectively managing development”
Cllr Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council added:
“Whilst we welcome the ambition to simplify the planning process, wholescale reform must be carefully considered as planning is a complex matter.
“Local democracy is an essential aspect of the planning system. The role of elected Members in standing up for constituents should continue to underpin planning at all levels. Much of the White Paper appears to concern housing numbers, at the expense of delivering sustainable development.
“We need a system that supports our priorities here in East Northants; be it delivering more affordable housing, appropriate design of new homes, or supporting our high streets. Some aspects of the Government’s proposals could be supported, such as the introduction of a simplified infrastructure levy system. Overall however, the proposals in the White Paper appear to represent an increased centralisation of the planning system at the expense of local democratic control.”
The full report submitted by officers to the ENC’s Planning Policy Committee was agreed by councillors and can be viewed here: www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/1095/planning_policy_committee
The Council’s response will be submitted to the Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government in time for the 29 October closing date.