Councils hit out at ‘undemocratic’ planning reforms   

Salford City Council has slammed the Government’s proposed planning reforms, claiming they would “remove citizens’ rights to influence individual developments”, in a motion put forward by Mayor Paul Dennett.

The proposed shake-up, much-debated since the Government released the white paper last month, recommends speeding up the process of drawing up local plans and boosting housing numbers through a move towards a so-called zonal planning system. 

Under the new planning model, land would be classified into one of three categories, growth, renewal or protection.  

Salford argued that “the underlying assumption that the housing shortage is due to the failure of the planning system is demonstrably wrong”. 

Over the last four years Salford City Council has built 3,344 more homes than its target and contributed 17% of all affordable homes built across Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs between 2011 and 2019, the authority said. 

The Government’s revised planning system involves scrapping section 106 payments, money paid by a developer to contribute towards education, affordable homes and infrastructure to mitigate the impact of a development, and replace them with a national infrastructure levy. 

Salford City Council said it had secured £18.6m in S106 payments since 2016 and that the change would benefit wealthier parts of the country and remove the link between a development and the necessary physical and social infrastructure that mitigates its impact”.

The local authority called on Government to address the lack of affordable housing through a “sustained programme of significant public investment in social-rented homes” and make it more difficult for developers to “negotiate away their commitments to affordable housing”.  

Earlier this week, a similar motion was put forward by Oldham councillors who said the reforms would “fundamentally undermine democratic local control”. Councillors asked Oldham Council’s chief executive to “reject the proposals in the strongest form”. 

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