Green Councillors have announced their support for the Local Government Association’s call to ‘keep planning local,’ joining a host of wildlife organisations and the Labour group in resisting proposed changes to planning law.
New plans for house-building and planning being proposed by the Conservative government could see Brighton required to increase its target for new homes by 287% – a move that could ‘override local communities and risk green space’ according to critics.
The government’s ‘white paper,’ which sets out the plans, suggests that contracts for new developments could be ‘automatically granted’ in areas of land that the government would designate as zones for ‘growth.
This has been challenged by many campaign groups on the grounds that it would remove the power of local communities to have a say on developments in their area. Groups such as Sussex Wildlife Trust and Extinction Rebellion Brighton were quick to highlight the potential detrimental effects the plans would have on the environment. A series of requests put to this week’s council meeting include demands that greater say is granted to local communities on decisions about the quality, affordability and quantity of new homes.
Raising the cuts imposed on local authorities by the Tory government since 2010, councillors will request increased funding and enhanced powers for local authority planning teams to support local communities who are faced with unsustainable development in their area.
Councillor Marianna Ebel, co-chair of the council’s Tourism, Equalities Communities and Culture Committee, said:
“Local communities should be given a greater say in planning decisions. But on top of years of cuts and attempts to undermine local control of planning policy, the latest Conservative government proposals have caused alarm – even among Conservative MPs – for putting local decision making at greater risk than ever before.
“Back in 2014 it was government inspectors who demanded that the city council find yet more land that could be built on. Nestled as we are between the sea and the Downs, we all know the impact that centrally imposed housing targets can have on local communities and green space.
“Despite our clear housing crisis, it is plain to see that restrictive planning laws favour developers and costly developments, not communities and affordable housing. The amount of affordable housing we can legally request of developers, for example, is defined by national standards, not local need.
Greens will always press for local, community-led decisions on planning applications, and we will be glad to contact Conservative ministers to make clear our concerns.”