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The planning system is undemocratic per 72% of councillors

by Paul Addison on January 18, 2017 No comments

According to a recent survey, it is the thought of councilors through England that the planning system works in the interests of developers, as opposed to the interests of councils and local communities.

Think Tank, Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) carried out the survey of 1,200 ward councilors in England and it was commissioned by the National Trust.

The findings showed that among the councilors that were asked, 72% believe that the planning system is too much in benefit of developers, at the loss of the local communities.

On top of this, from the councilors asked;

  • 50% implied that sites that are not in line with the local plan are being approved for housing.
  • 50% think planning departments are not adequately resourced.
  • 36% per cent said that it is adequately resourced.

The chief executive at the LGiU, Jonathan Carr-West, had the following to say:

“The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live. Councilors are the most important link between communities and that system. Our survey with the National Trust shows that many councilors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”

Some other key statistics from the survey are as follows:

  • 63% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the bellow statement: “The current planning system is too top-down”
  • 58% disagreed with the bellow statement: “It is easy for residents in my ward to influence the planning process”
  • 58% of councilors, with green belt in their area, think that within the next 5 years their council will allocate green belt land for housing.
  • 18% think design has improved since the National Planning Policy Framework was published.
  • 12% think the loosening of planning restrictions has had a positive effect.

The historic environment director at the National Trust, Ingrid Samuel, has expressed concern about councilors impression that the NPPF hasn’t delivered the localism that was promised.

“If ministers are serious about local plans being at the heart of the planning system, then they should invest in council planning teams and use the housing white paper to give them the tools to deliver good quality housing in the right places.”

With the housing white paper due, concerns from the LGiU and the National Trust have been expressed about how the matter could be made worse if it sets out “rigid” housing numbers for local plans that do not take into account the accounts of local factors as the green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It is hoped by the organizations that the government will be taking several necessary steps to improve the confidence councilors have in the planning system, such as:

  • “More resources for local planning authorities to help get local plans in place.”

  • “A smart approach to meeting housing need that allows councils to recognise local constraints.”

  • “Focuses development in the most appropriate areas.” 

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Paul AddisonThe planning system is undemocratic per 72% of councillors

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