25th Sep, 2020

Government changes to planning systems would cause 'havoc' across region say campaigners

Laura Kearns 10th Aug, 2020

CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at government’s proposals to change planning systems saying it could cause ‘havoc’ across the region.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England in the West Midlands (CPRE) claims plans to reform all land across England into categories of growth, renewal or protection would over-simplify planning and must be rethought.

The group’s concerns include ‘protected’ categories and it says government has so far failed to protect parts of the green belt including in Coventry and Solihull.

Campaigners also say some parts of Warwickshire does not fall under green belt or areas of protection, but still need saving from development.

CPRE West Midlands chairman Mark Sullivan said: “Government claims its proposals would put local people at the heart of planning. This is a myth. Unless they are able to be involved when a plan was first drawn up – a difficult task – there would be no further opportunity to influence planning decisions.

“The lack of strategic plans since 2007 has been very damaging to planning in the West Midlands, yet these proposals reduce the power of plans further.

“We find it extraordinary councillors and their work on planning are nowhere mentioned in “Planning for the Future”. Planning still has a democratic basis with elected members in charge of planning decisions. Government appears to wipe them out of the planning system entirely.

“Planning is a powerful tool for shaping the places in which we live and work. It has until now helped the West Midlands urban areas grow in prosperity while protecting the countryside of the counties from sprawl. It has been controlled by elected councillors. The planning system must be strengthened, not over-simplified to the point where it is too weak to resist ‘anything goes’ development. The government must think again.”

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