Government planning system shake-up criticised by local Green Councillor

15 November 2020

Amber Valley Green Party councillor, Dave Wells, has launched an outspoken attack on Government plans for “radical reform “of the planning system.

The proposals would include compulsory targets for house building, and the Local Plan would place land into three categories. The first two are Growth zones (for substantial development) and Renewal zones (smaller scale development), where automatic planning permission would be given for types of development specified in the Local Plan, without further community consultation. The third category is Protected zones, where development is restricted (not prohibited).

“I agree that the planning system is in need of reform”, said Councillor Wells. “However, this White Paper takes the wrong approach and makes the wrong assumptions about what is actually wrong with the system. It is a missed opportunity to address climate change, rebuild ecosystems and to provide affordable homes and a right to green space - everything that local people tell us really matter.”

At the Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC) Cabinet meeting on 28 October, Councillor Wells, who is Green Party councillor for Duffield, commended officers for making it clear in the council’s submission to the consultation that any definition of ‘sustainable development’ should reflect the challenges faced by climate change.

Cllr Wells went on to criticise the proposed design codes and the lack of energy efficiency requirements.

“I’m afraid they seem to be centred around beauty at the expense of sustainability. Tree-lined streets are welcome but are not enough”, he said. “Current local planning systems can be one of the most effective ways for local authorities to tackle climate change. Hopefully, our new Local Plan will enable AVBC to play its part.”

“Local people can already be involved early in the process (that is, at the development of the Local Plan); these new proposals would exclude the involvement of communities later in the process. We in the Green Party are opposed to this over-centralised approach, which will damage local democracy and mean our residents have even less control over where development goes.”

The proposals are controversial, even with some Conservative MPs. The consultation has just closed and is believed to have attracted an unprecedented number of responses. The Government is expected to decide on the way forward in 2021.

“Amber Valley Green Party’s response has made it very clear that these proposals
should not have been presented as a White Paper. It is nowhere near ready for legislation”, said Cllr Wells. “We only hope that Government is listening and is ready for a rethink.”

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