PROPOSED legislation on the future of planning has been described as a ‘developers’ charter’ as councillors in Bolton unanimously backed a motion describing the changes as an ‘attack on local democracy’.

The Government has said its white paper on planning reforms, which is currently under consultation, aims to simplify and accelerate the planning process.

Critics say the new rules would mean more deregulation and disregarding residents’ views.

A motion from Liberal Democrat leader councillor Roger Hayes was debated by councillors.

He said: ” I would like the council to express its deep concern at many of the planning changes being proposed by the Government.

“In making these proposals they appear to be blaming local government and particularly existing planning rules for the fact that its target to build more housing is not being met.

“It ignores the fact that since 2009/10, 40 per cent of sites with planning permission have not been built, and that councils approve 90 per cent of

planning applications.

“The council particularly objects to proposals to reduce or remove the right of residents to object to applications near them, to introduce permitted

development rights to automatically allow owners to add storeys to existing dwellings and to grant automatic rights for developers to build on land identified as ‘for growth’.”

Councillor Hayes also attacked the proposed removal of section 106 payments for infrastructure and their replacement with a national levy.

He added: “The Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) calls the proposals ‘shameful and which will do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes’.

“RIBA also said that proposals could lead to the next generation of slum housing.

“The council also notes that the reforms are opposed by the all-party Local Government Association which is currently led by Conservative councillors.

“I strongly believe that these proposals will present a further attack on local democracy and further reduce the rights of neighbours to object to

harmful planning applications.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi has also attacked the proposed changes.

She said: “I am concerned that the measures outlined in the white paper on planning pose a threat to our green spaces, remove important safeguards in the  planning system, and will allow large developers to ignore quality, affordability and sustainability.

“I am concerned that the Government’s proposals amount to a ‘developer’s charter’ that will remove powers from communities and hand them to

Whitehall-appointed boards of developers.

“We‘ve seen this approach before with fracking sites and the Hulton Park development, despite universal opposition from local residents, their concerns were ignored, and these developments were waved through by a central Government which prioritises the wealth and wellbeing of companies

over its own citizens.”

The motion was supported by the council, with Conservative councillors also backing it.

It was resolved that they will write to the borough’s MPs and ask them to campaign and vote against the proposals.