Cllr Karen Chilvers

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Planning – a local decision for local people

by Cllr Karen Chilvers on 25 October, 2012

Tonight I presented a motion to full council that aims to keep our planning decisions local.  Here it is:

Brentwood Borough Council wishes the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to note the following:

  • Brentwood Borough Council believes that local people, through their democratically elected local authorities, are the most suitable judges of what development is acceptable in an area and the suitable level of contributions that developers need to make and, therefore, opposes:
    • The Secretary of State’s proposals for the Planning Inspectorate to have powers to override agreements between Councils and developers over the number of affordable housing units allocated to planning applications.
    • The Secretary of State’s intention to override Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990 which will allow developers to immediately appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over the allocation of affordable housing units in any scheme they may be concerned with.
    • The Secretary of State’s proposals for planning permission – currently required for extensions of more than three or four metres from the rear wall of any home – to only be needed for those reaching beyond 8m for detached homes and 6m for others
    • The Secretary of State’s proposals for the Planning Inspectorate to take planning powers away from local authorities which he deems to be slow or of making poor quality planning decisions in determining applications.

Brentwood Borough Council notes that the current Coalition government did listen earlier in the year over concerns regarding the National Planning Policy Framework and revised its plans accordingly, so urges the Government to listen to the concerns being expressed by the cross-party LGA;

We do, however, welcome other parts of the stimulus package including:

  • £300 million to provide 15,000 affordable homes across the country
  • An extension of the refurbishment programme to bring an extra 5,000 empty homes back into use
  • £280m for FirstBuy, the shared equity scheme to give a further 16,500 first time buyers the chance to own their own homes
  • Up to £10bn of guarantees to housing associations, property management companies and developers which will be able to use the guarantees to secure lower borrowing costs. This will lead to hundreds of thousands of extra rental homes being built.

This council also notes:

  • the record of the previous Labour government on providing affordable social housing – and that during their 13 years in power, the social housing stock fell by another 420,000 houses, as Labour continually failed to build more homes than they were selling off. In the meantime, social housing waiting list soared to almost 1.8million, a rise of 741,000 families.
  • the record of previous Conservative Governments where 1.1 million social homes were lost from the stock during the 18 years of Tory rule up to 1997, through a combination of Right to Buy sales and a failure to invest in replacements. When the Major government left office more than 1 million families were on social housing waiting lists.

Brentwood Borough Council resolves to formally write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, outlining this council’s opposition to the plans.

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