Opposition to ‘wild west’ planning reforms has ‘united us all’

Lewes District Council has submitted a ‘candid and critical’ response to the government’s recently announced consultation on reforms to the planning system.  A report updating Cabinet members will be considered on November 12.

The controversial reforms would see the government’s housing requirement for Lewes district nearly double, from 483 to 800 properties a year and potentially lead to 37% less affordable homes.

Land would be designated into one of three categories: for growth, for renewal or for protection.  Planning applications in the new growth areas will receive automatic permission to build and applications in the renewal category will receive a permission in principle.

Councillor Emily O’Brien ( pictured), Cabinet Member for Planning, said:

“Be in no doubt at all, these planning reforms remove any opportunity for local people to have a say on planning applications where they live.   A government algorithm will set the number of homes an area must see built, and if you live in an area designated for ‘growth’ or ‘renewal’, the development will get the go ahead, whether you like it or not. 

“Lewes District Council has submitted a candid and critical response to the consultation and I know the vast majority of local authorities in the UK, whatever their politics, have done exactly the same. These reforms have united us all.”

The government has set a housing target for England of 330,000 new homes to be built every year, with its new algorithm deciding how many are required in each town or city. 

Councillor O’Brien added:

“I completely accept and support the need for more housing in the right place, but by removing the local scrutiny and public consultation that takes place now and imposing these arbitrary regulations, it just won’t be delivered.

House builders will go where profits are greatest, not where housing need is greatest.  

“The reforms will create a wild west for developers with our green spaces targeted and fewer affordable homes built. And when you consider there are over a million households on council waiting lists and 93,000 in temporary accommodation, the government’s planning reforms are deeply flawed and ill conceived.”