New figures published by Stevenage Labour reveal that Conservative plans to end the existing right of communities to object to bad planning proposals would mean an expected 424 proposals escape local scrutiny in Stevenage every year.
The research comes as LGA Labour analysis reveals that across the country, Conservatives have received an average of £27.50 in donations from developers for every planning decision they plan to take outside of the power of local communities. Under Boris Johnson, the Conservatives have received more than £11million in donations from developers. The Conservatives’ ‘Developers’ Charter’ would take an expected 400,000 planning applications taken each year outside the power of local communities.
Publishing the analysis Stevenage Labour spokesperson, John Gardner said,
“This community belongs to the people of Stevenage. The idea that wealthy developers should be able to come in and build what they want over the heads of local people with no right of appeal is an outrage.
“424 planning applications are made in Stevenage each year. If these plans go through this community won’t get to have its say over a single one of them.
“Labour councillors have worked with local people to successfully oppose inappropriate developments like the ICON building redevelopment proposals. Under the new rules local people won’t get a say at all, and these inappropriate developments would have gone ahead.”
“Under Boris Johnson the Conservatives have received more than £11m in donations from wealthy developers. Now Boris Johnson is giving his developer donors exactly what they want, by changing the rules so they can ride roughshod over the voices of local people and businesses. That tells you all you need to know about this government and its priorities. It’s contracts for cronies, favours for their mates, and big changes for developers, while the rest of us deal with the consequences.”
The Conservative Government’s intention to change planning rules to benefit developers were set out in ‘Planning for the Future’ in 2020, and were immediately branded a ‘Developers’ Charter’ by housing campaigners. The plans are due to return to Parliament after this year’s local elections.
The ‘Developers’ Charter’ proposals would take away the right of local people to comment or object to development in their area, instead allowing the Secretary of State to grant developers planning “permission in principle” without any local consultation on the application.
These changes to the planning system would help developers avoid contributions for affordable housing, local infrastructure, and avoid existing standards on good quality design, allowing them to rack up hundreds of millions of pounds extra profit without building any more homes. The Government is already relaxing ‘permitted development’ rules to allow developers to ignore space and amenity standards and turn high street shops and offices into homes, none of which have to be affordable, with campaigners warning that this is already creating a new wave of slum housing.
The proposals to remove local voices from the planning process have attracted widespread criticism – except from developers. President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alan Jones, branded the white paper’s proposals as “shameful”, the Campaign to Protect Rural England voiced concerns about community involvement, and the housing charity Shelter expressed concern at the reforms’ potential impact on social housing.