Tory proposals to allow developers to come to financial arrangements with objecting neighbours in order to secure their support have been denounced as “cheque-book planning”

The proposal, contained in this week’s planning green paper, says developers can come to “voluntary agreements” with neighbours in order to compensate them for the impact of development.

The Tories also plan to give immediate neighbours the right to force a formal assessment of plans by the planning authority, if they object to any scheme. However, the green paper adds that the Tories expect developers in many cases to avoid this formal assessment by paying neighbours.

Beverley Firth, planning partner at law firm Mills & Reeve, said the move was in direct conflict with a central tenet of the planning system – that consent should not be bought. She said: “‘Voluntary agreements to compensate’ could lead to parish councils trying to decide what compensation they should get to allow the development or even developers being held to ransom.”

Ian Tant, senior partner at Barton Willmore, said the proposal was a cause for concern: “It gets very close to cheque-book planning.”