East Hoathly Village Concerns Blog

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Archive for January, 2017

Councillors lament lack of localism in planning system (thank you David Connoley)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

lament

Councillors have lamented the lack of local democracy in house planning, with a majority warning that the system leans too far in the favour of housing developers at the cost of local communities, a survey has revealed.

A survey of over 1,200 ward councillors in England carried out by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), and commissioned by the conservation charity the National Trust, has revealed that councillors believe the current planning system does not consider the wishes of councils and communities as much as it should.

Councillors have warned against the current system with over half of those surveyed advising that planning departments are not adequately resourced and that sites are being improved for new housing despite not being in line with the local plan, including sites on green belt land.

“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,” said Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU.

“Councillors are the most important link between communities and that system. Our survey with the National Trust shows that many councillors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”

The survey revealed ongoing councillor reservations about the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), with only 18% of councillors feeling that design has improved since it was introduced. The NPPF was criticised by the CLG Select Committee as long ago as 2014 for failing to protect against unsustainable development and was earmarked for a comprehensive overview in April last year.

Particularly, councillors have raised concerns about the loosening of the planning system permitted by the NPPF such as the introduction of permitted development rights for home extensions, office to residential use conversions and other changes of use. Approximately 60% of councillors believe that due to the framework, green belt land is at risk of being allocated for housing by their councils within the next five years.

The results of the survey come as the government prepares to announce its housing white paper in response to the growing problems in ensuring a sufficient number of homes nationwide, particularly affordable homes.

Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the National Trust, declared it “worrying” that councillors feel that the NPPF hasn’t delivered the localism that was promised despite almost five years having passed since its introduction.

“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,” Samuel said.

The LGiU and the National Trust expressed hopes that the government will use the paper to improve council confidence in the planning system, instead of setting rigid housing numbers which do not consider local factors such as areas of outstanding national beauty.

Their suggestions for steps the government could take included more resources for local planning authorities, stronger government backing for councils setting design standards, and an increased ability for councils to recognise local constraints and focus development appropriately.

Objections to Hesmond Stud planning application WD20162796MAO

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Link to Suggested Objections (short list).

Link to Village Concerns Steering Committee Objections

Why we have to challenge the WDC Sustainability Assessment for East Hoathly

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

The perverse logic WDC used to target massive development on East Hoathly.