The Government has recently published highly controversial proposals to reform the planning system. One aspect that has raised particular concern is the proposal to remove local residents’ rights to object to individual planning applications in their own neighbourhood if the area is zoned for growth or renewal.

Last month, the House of Commons called on the Government to protect residents’ rights to retain a voice over planning applications, recognising that the best way to get necessary new homes built is to support communities, councils and developers to work in partnership.

The motion passed in the House of Commons stated, “This House believes planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes; and therefore calls on the Government to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications”.

Under the Government’s proposals, Bolton Council could be completely by-passed and the Borough’s residents left without the ability to formally object to inappropriate developments in their own street or neighbourhood with participation limited to consultation on the area’s local plan every few years.

This is clearly unacceptable and the Government’s proposals were a key issue of contention in both of the recent Parliamentary by-elections which took place in Chesham and Amersham and Batley and Spen.

Residents of both constituencies were given examples of the ‘Developers Charter’ which would occur under planning reforms; more houses being built on green fields in Chesham and Amersham and a huge Amazon warehouse proposed for 59 acres of farmland near Cleckheaton in Batley and Spen. Voters in each by-election rejected the Conservative philosophy to relax planning laws.

The Government should listen to residents around the country who are up in arms about the proposed reforms and ditch the Planning Bill immediately.

Cllr Richard Silvester

Bolton Labour group Shadow Cabinet member for Housing and Strategic Planning