Calls for planning reform rethink

Serious concerns have been voiced by a campaign group about government proposals to the current planning system.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 1:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 1:59 pm
Date: 31st August 2020. Picture James Hardisty. YP - Magazine, Wetherby Heritage feature.........Pictured Wetherby Town Hall.

Better Wetherby Partnership, which aims to protect the character of the market town and has worked to try to stop major developments off Harrogate Road and Racecourse Approach, say local people will have less say in future planning.

Chairman Roger Owen, has written to local MPs, Alec Shelbrooke, Nigel Adams and Andrew Jones, highlighting the serious concerns of the group.

“These changes, aimed at streamlining the process and speeding up house building, were initially outlined in the ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper

published in August 2020,” said Mr Owen.

“A Planning Bill is likely to go before Parliament in the Autumn of 2021.

“New legislation is likely to introduce a completely new concept of local plans which should be completed within a 30 month time frame.

“Better Wetherby fear that the new proposals will particularly undermine the ability of local residents to comment on individual applications.”

The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee recently published a report urging the government to reconsider the reforms.

Mr Owen added: “Although Better Wetherby welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement in the foreword to the planning White Paper that the changes should aim to make it harder for developers to dodge their obligations and give local people a greater say over what gets built, the reality is likely to be the opposite.

“We believe that our MPs should hear at first hand of our experiences of the current planning system.

“Change is certainly needed so there should be no fear that we are resisting a fresh approach.

“However, if the Government truly believe that local people should have a greater say over planning proposals, they should not only take on board the views of

the Parliamentary Select Committee, but listen to us too.”

Mr Owen highlighted in his letter that planning policy in the immediate Wetherby Area has added complications by virtue of it being governed by three major local authorities – Leeds, Harrogate and North Yorkshire.

Better Wetherby say the proposed changes, which aim to end the current requirement for authorities to have a ‘Duty to Cooperate’ when resolving strategic planning solutions, will be regressive.