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MPs need to rethink white paper
The Government has published a White Paper called “Planning for the Future,” which sets out its proposals for a much changed planning system. I think it will be a disaster for Cornwall and I agree with a leading economist that, in many ways, it dismantles the existing system and hands power over to developers.
The document makes numerous claims. It talks about dealing with climate change, supporting “sustainable, beautiful, safe and useful development” and giving communities a “greater say over what gets built” in their areas. But the reality is very different.

It is proposing a top-down “standard method for establishing housing requirement figures,” which will be imposed on councils. A prominent firm of planning consultants has already calculated that Cornwall Council would be expected to promote the delivery of 4,054 new properties each year

This means that the unitary authority’s next twenty-year Local Plan would have to include a ridiculous and unsustainable target of 81,000 housing units over the next two decades – irrespective of what councillors and residents think is appropriate for Cornwall. This would be significantly up from the present housing target of 52,500.

Proposals in the White Paper would centralise the planning process in Whitehall and take decision-making powers away from councils. It states key “development management” policies will be “established at national scale” and the policy development capabilities of local authorities will be greatly reduced.

The Government plans to bring forward zoning. All land will have to be placed in one of three categories in new Local Plans. These are described as “growth areas suitable for substantial development, renewal areas suitable for development, and areas that are protected.” The White Paper adds that growth areas, once identified, “would automatically be granted outline planning permission for the principle of development” while “automatic approvals would also be available for pre-established development types” in other areas suitable for building.” Basically, planning without the need for planning permissions.
There is a second consultation document, which proposes some immediate changes to the planning system. This includes a disastrous proposal that no affordable homes would need to be provided on developments of up to either 40 or 50 new properties, though it would not be applied in some rural areas.

All in all, it looks like there will be far-reaching shift in the planning system, much of which will be bad news for our communities. But not in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – as planning has been devolved to these Celtic nations. Surely, this is another massive reason why we need to secure devolution for Cornwall.
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Published on 19th November 2020.

Cornish Assembly Campaign
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