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Cornwall Council votes to oppose Government's planning white paper
Cornwall Councillors on voted 22nd September to oppose the Government’s White Paper on Planning, which seeks to introduce the frightening new “standard method for establishing housing requirement figures.” This would change Cornwall’s 20-year housing target from 52,500 to an unbelievably unsustainable 81,000 properties.

MK leader Cllr Dick Cole and the Lib Dem group leader Cllr Malcolm Brown both put forward motions on this subject. The two motions were amalgamated into one proposal, which was proposed by Cllr Brown and seconded by Cllr Cole.
63 members supported the motion to oppose the White Paper, which was opposed by three councillors (all Conservative). Some Conservatives did support the motion, but there were thirty abstentions – all Tories.

In his opening remarks, Cllr Dick Cole said:
“Cornwall is a special place. And as elected councillors on the unitary authority, we must see ourselves as custodians of Cornwall. And we have a duty to do our very best for the people and the communities of our historic land.

“For this, we need a fair and balanced planning system, that protects the Cornish countryside while allowing appropriate developments to go forward. But the proposed planning changes in the White Paper, and the associated consultation document on more immediate changes, if implemented, would be a disaster for Cornwall.”

The motion was as follows:

This Council notes that:

1. The Government has published the “Planning for the Future” White Paper and an associated document that would bring forward some more immediate changes to the planning system.

2. The proposals would completely alter the planning system in Cornwall.

3. The Royal Institute for British Architects has called the proposals “shameful” and added they “will do almost nothing to guarantee delivery of affordable, well designed and sustainable homes”. The RIBA has also said that the proposals could lead to the next generation of slum housing.

4. The changes are opposed by the all-party Local Government Association.

5. The issue of land banking is not addressed in the White Paper, even though research by the Local Government Association has demonstrated that there are existing planning permissions for more than one million dwellings across the UK that have not yet been started.

This Council believes that:

6. For all its imperfections, the traditional planning system administered by local authorities allows for significant local democratic input into future development and gives local people a say in planning proposals that affect them.

This Council resolves that:

7. The unitary authority raises strong objections to the proposed changes in the White Paper and linked consultation document, which should include the following:

• An objection to the further centralisation of the planning process, which would undermine the work of Cornwall Council and town and Parish councils, and severely weaken the Cornwall Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans. The changes would also reduce the ability of residents to make meaningful representations on proposals for new housing and other developments in their areas.

• An objection to the “standard method for establishing housing requirement figures,” which has been described by some Councils as a “mutant algorithm.” The changes would increase Cornwall’s 20-year housing target to an extremely unsustainable 81,000 properties – up from the present target of 52,500.

• An objection to the zoning of land, which would allow certain developments to happen without the need for a formal planning application. The changes would risk unregulated sprawl and unsustainable developments – pressures to which many settlements in Cornwall are highly vulnerable.

• An objection to the proposal that a new Local Plan must be completed to a central government template within a 30-month timetable. The changes would reduce the ability of the unitary authority to prepare planning policies best suited to Cornwall.

• An objection that affordable housing would no longer be sought on sites (not deemed designated rural areas) of up to 40 or 50 new properties. The changes would diminish seriously the amount of social rent and affordable housing built in Cornwall and do nothing to tackle the issues associated with second homes and empty properties.

• An objection to the extension of “permission in principle” to larger housing developments, which would further undermine the openness of the planning system.

This Council also resolves to:

8. Raise concerns about the end of Section 106 legal agreements and the introduction of an Infrastructure Levy which could make it more difficult to ensure the delivery of social rent / affordable homes and other community benefits.

9. Raise concerns that the UK Government is failing to address the issue of “land banking.”

This Council further resolves that:

10. The final content of the consultation responses from Cornwall Council / Cabinet Member be discussed with all political groups and the supporters of this motion.

11. The Cornwall Association of Local Councils (CALC) and all local councils in Cornwall are advised of Cornwall Council’s deep opposition to the Government’s proposals.

12. Cornwall Council writes to and lobbies Cornwall’s Members of Parliament urging them to oppose the Government's proposals and to seek their withdrawal, and to circulate their replies to all members of the Council.
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Published on 19th November 2020.

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