Buckinghamshire Council asks the Government to think again on planning reforms

We have responded to the government’s “Planning for the Future” consultation and have asked government to think again on changes that could have a negative impact on Buckinghamshire residents.

Whilst welcoming some of the proposed changes we believe the planning reforms would:

  • Reduce local democratic accountability - the proposals in the White Paper seek to over-centralise and standardise decision making at the expense of local accountability and democracy.
  • Reduce engagement in Local Plans - the proposals would reduce the opportunity for public engagement in the drafting of policies and it will only become clear what has been permitted later on in the process when their involvement will be too late.
  • Impose inflated housing targets - the council has expressed grave concerns about how the Government’s methodology is derived, again raising significant issues of reducing local democratic accountability in the planning process.
  • Reduce properly funded affordable housing - the government proposes that local authorities borrow money in order to forward fund affordable housing. The council believes this to be an ill-considered solution. Tax payers would effectively be subsidising loans to developers and landowners. The Council would also not support reducing the number of development sites that are required to provide for affordable housing – particularly as small developments play such an important role in Buckinghamshire’s rural areas.
  • Put a burden on council resources - developers should fund the full cost of development - the council opposes the proposed delay in payment of the infrastructure levy as set out in the White Paper. Upfront payment is essential if the infrastructure to support development is to be in place prior to occupation.
  • Improve design, planning enforcement and local authority cooperation with other public bodies - the council welcomes the emphasis on design, greater penalties for people who break planning rules and the abolition of the ludicrous ‘duty to cooperate’.

Councillor Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement said: “The Council meticulously scrutinised the government’s consultation paper and our response not only raises some very important points with the government but also provides alternative suggestions that we feel would benefit our residents and the planning process overall. We hope our response highlights our areas of concern and will assist the government to develop a planning system for the future that is democratic, fair and simple to use and encourages good quality, sustainable development that enhances our area.”

To read our full response, download the Buckinghamshire Council response to the Planning for the Future consultation