Fears giving power to people for planning will damage environment

The Government has today (July 23) announced a controversial idea to streamline the planning permission system.

Under the 'Community Right to Build' scheme housing minister, Grant Shapps, hopes local communities will shape developments where they live without interference from local authorities.

Mr Shapps wants local communities to hold referendums on planning proposals, which will get the go-ahead if the majority vote in favour.

He hopes this will end situations where big developers anger residents by applying for planning permission for housing they feel is unsuitable for their area.

However, the Campaign to Protect Rural England's head of planning, Fiona Howie, said: "Bypassing the planning process is not the way to deliver it and any proposals should include proper planning scrutiny.

"The level and location of development should be informed by a proper assessment of local housing need and an understanding of whether the local environment can accommodate more development.

"This capacity should be assessed through democratic local plans and not a simple public ballot.

"A central part of the Government's wider planning reform proposals is to give local communities a pivotal role in shaping local plans.

"The Government should focus their efforts on getting these broader reforms right, so that local communities are truly involved in planning for their area as a whole.

"This, rather than a new Right to Build, should ensure local people are able to shape future development in their areas."

Luke Walsh


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