Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Conservatives Will Overhaul Labour's Failed Planning System

Today I met with Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps to discuss the new Conservative Green Paper on planning.

Our broken planning system is in desperate need of an overhaul and local communities need to be put in the driving seat.

I am particularly pleased by two key changes an incoming Conservative Government would make.

Stopping Retrospective Planning Applications

Firstly, we would extend permitted development rights so that simple changes to residential properties would not need planning permission. We would at the same time seriously restrict retrospective planning applications, allowing them only where genuine mistakes are made. This would have two effects. It would mean that simple, non controversial planning matters would not have to go through the rigmarole of the planning process, thereby freeing up money and resources which could be better spent on enforcement. It would mean that rogue developers would no longer be able to bypass local planning authorities, developing properties and then only applying for planning permission when challenged or when threatened with enforcement action. I come across this sort of abuse on a regular basis in my role as a councillor and it is of huge concern to local people.

Reforming the Planning Appeals Process

Secondly, we would reform the planning appeals process, which currently undermines democratic decision making by local council planning panels and which allows developers to run rings around planning officers. We would limit the grounds for planning appeals to where correct procedures were not followed and where decisions contravene local planning rules.

For far too long rogue developers have 'played the system' using a bureaucratic and centrist planning system to run roughshod over local people and to get around local planning decisions.

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