The Chiltern Society has expressed its opposition to changes proposed to the way the planning system operates in England. These changes are set out in the Government’s White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ and are potentially the most radical changes since the planning system was established in 1947.
The White Paper proposes all land is placed under a zoning system as ‘Growth’, ‘Renewal’ or ‘Protected’ when a local authority prepares its Local Plan. Once land is identified as ‘Growth’ or ‘Renewal’ it will automatically be given planning permission in principle. The Paper, along with an accompanying White Paper, also proposes changes to the way housing numbers are allocated in each Council area, potentially increasing pressure for building in the Chilterns
The Society is opposed to the changes because it would potentially lead to larger numbers of new houses being built in the Chilterns AONB and Green Belt and a reduction in the level of scrutiny of environmental impacts. Changing decision-making on the principle of development to the Local Plan preparation stages risks development being approved without sufficient technical supporting information, and decision-making being taken out of the hands of local planning authorities and the local population.
The current national policy on Green Belts is leading to large and significant sites in the Chilterns being proposed for removal from the Green Belt to allow for housing development. The planning system needs to give greater protection to these areas through national and local policies and to concentrate development in other parts of the country as part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda.
The current planning system has made an important contribution to keeping our countryside special, and we are not convinced that what is now being proposed would be sufficient to keep it that way.
Please read the Chiltern Society’s full response here.