Warnings that the proposals for the biggest planning reshuffle in decades would pave the way for “the next generation of slums” have been described by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick as “absurd.”
The long-awaited planning white paper – envisioning dividing land across England into three categories: for growth, renewal or protection – was released on Thursday and has already sparked controversy, with fears that democratic control be diluted and affordable housing reduced.
But in a series of morning talks, Jenrick said the proposals would lead to more social housing through a new infrastructure tax and that there would be “a really serious debate” in communities during the process. development of plans.
Critics of the proposals, set out in the Planning for the Future document, say the move would in effect remove a whole layer of local control in which councilors, the public and others participate as nominations make their way through. through the existing system. process.
Faced with criticism from the Labor Party, which called the white paper a “developer’s charter,” Jenrick told BBC Radio 4 he had “no idea” how much property developers gave to the Tories last year. “We’re actually asking developers to pay more,” he says.
Asked about the Royal Institute of British Architect’s comments that the proposals were “shameful,” he told Sky News: “I’m afraid this is completely absurd. I saw these comments and they were posted before we even published the document.
“Design and quality” would be at the heart of the new process, he told Talk Radio, adding that “every local community” would be able to create their own binding design code that developers would have to adhere to.
“More money is going to be spent on social infrastructure as a result of these reforms than in the past, and a much simpler system,” he said. “These reforms will really help small builders. It won’t help the big house builders, it’s designed to help the small builders… in the market – they’ve gone down dramatically over the last 20 or 30 years.
The white paper says the new system “would make it easier for those who want to build beautifully by introducing a fast track procedure for beauty through changes in national policy and legislation, to automatically allow proposals for high quality developments where they reflect the local. character and preferences ”.
Areas identified as areas of growth and “suitable for substantial development” would automatically be granted a “building permit for the principle of development,” he said, while automatic approvals would also be available for types of development. pre-established development in other areas suitable for construction.
“So it won’t be necessary to submit another planning request to test if the site can be approved. “
Critics continued to mount on Thursday as the policy director of the Urban and Rural Planning Association called on the government to provide evidence on how the current planning system was “hopelessly broken.”
Hugh Ellis told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: “Change is good for planning, there is no doubt about it, but the most important thing is that people’s voices will not be improved, it is not a democratization of planning and that is really disturbing for us.
Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury said: “This is a promoter’s charter that will see communities left out in decisions and deny vital funding for building schools, clinics and community infrastructure.
Association of Local Governments chairman James Jamieson said nine out of ten applications had been approved by councils with more than one million homes that had received building permits in the past decade to build, and that the system should focus on that.
“Any loss of local control over the developments would be a concern,” said Jamieson, who is also the head of the Tory Council in central Bedfordshire.