The planning system is already rigged well in developers’ favour, with trust and faith in the democratic process eroded in much of the country.
In my constituency, there has been a significant amount of anger, upset and deep concern caused by the planningsystem – particularly with regard to a site which is being developed for MyHermes.
Though there were a number of consultations before land allocation – understandably – the vast majority of people did not engage and were not even aware that a potential allocation was taking place.
As the Minister of State for Housing said to me in response to my question on this issue, ’previous studies suggest that only a small proportion of the public tend to engage in local plan consultations.’
We all know that people only tend to become aware and engage when an application is made and when a site notice appears.
But this causes real upset when people do then engage and seek to share their views at the application stage, only to be told that the decision about the site has already been made.At best it leaves people feeling ignored.
At worst it leads to a feeling of total disenfranchisement from local democracy.
This isn’t the fault of councils.
It is the process.
But it is the councils and planning committees that take the blame.
Planning works best when it is a partnership. We do need the right type of homes in the right places.
But just leaving delivery to the market will not deliver partnership and will fundamentally fail to meet people’s needs.
With the brownfield rumination fund devastated by the Tories and a soft touch approach to landbanking and speculation – the inevitable consequence of this policy will be the further loss of valued greenspaces without local voices being heard.
The reality is that the planning process isn’t a democratic one. It’s a legal one.
But this situation is due to become far, far worse.
In these changes the Government will be ripping out the only democratic element of the planning process.
These proposals are nothing short of a Developer’s Charter.
And once again there is corruption and cronyism at the heart of it.
Since the Prime Minister became the Leader of the Conservative party, donations to the Tories from developers has increased by 400%.
With these proposals the Prime Minister is paying them back by selling out our communities.
Some of those developers have even seen their individual planning applications personally approved by the Secretary of State, against his own departments advice.
There is a reason that Members of his own benches are so opposed to this Bill
It would be the greatest shift in power to big developers in the history of this country.
We need a fundamentally new approach.
Not more market control, more democratic control.
Not more executive homes, but affordable homes and social housing.
Not building for shareholders – but homes for families.
The homes we need in the places we need them.
This Bill will not deliver that.
The developers and donors will be delighted.
But it’s our communities that will pay the price.