The City of Durham Parish Council has issued a highly critical response to the government’s consultation on its “Planning for the Future” White Paper.
Whilst welcoming certain aspects of the White Paper, such as advocating high standards of design, the Council rejects the fundamental premise behind the proposals that the UK planning system is “broken”.
The Parish Council argues that, whilst imperfect, the current system is much to be preferred over alternatives such as the Government’s proposed zoning. Particularly unacceptable is the removal of public and local authority from any say on development proposals in the suggested ‘growth areas.’
The Parish Council argues that communities must be at the heart of a locally-led planning system that gives them the powers and resources to ensure new developments are in the right places and of a high standard.
Vice-Chair of the Parish Council’s Planning Committee Coun. John Ashby said: “local people have spent years preparing a neighbourhood plan for Durham City. We cannot understand why all that dedicated volunteer effort, epitomising the core purposes of the Localism Act 2011, is to be over-ridden by crude zonal designations and standardised national policies. The Government need to go back to the drawing board on this”. He continued “the Parish Council has been successful in making the case against planning applications for conversions of homes into student Houses in Multiple Occupation. This is local input and a democratic right that the Government’s White Paper proposes to sweep away so that developers can have a field day.”
The Chairman of the Parish Council’s Planning Committee Coun. Roger Cornwell said: “Responses to this White Paper from a very wide range of bodies provide the key information to demonstrate that it is not the planning system that is the obstacle to achieving the Government’s target of at least 300,000 new dwellings per year. There are currently one million un-built new dwellings with planning permission across the country, 90% of planning applications are approved each year and developers are storing planning permissions as quotable assets and to prevent supply outstripping demand and causing prices to fall”.
“It is finance, not planning, that is the blockage, notably there is insufficient funding for local authorities to build new social dwellings, approved large sites are being land-banked by developers and not developed quickly in case a ready supply of houses lowers the prices developers can charge and the benefit bestowed by planning permissions of enhanced land value is not adequately captured for the community”.
Coun. Cornwell added: “Whilst several aspects of the White Paper are welcome and the subordinate options mentioned may emerge as the least-worst outcome, its headline proposals sidestep the realities and tilt at an assertion about planning failure that has little more basis than “pub talk”.
A full copy of the Parish Council’s response to this consultation can be found here:
Planning for the Future White Paper – City of Durham Parish Council response