Proposals include scrapping centrally-set housing targets and a presumption in favour of sustainable development
The Conservative Party has laid out plans to scrap large elements of the planning system and replace them with a new system where local authorities set their own housing targets.
The party finally published its long awaited planning green paper today which included proposing the scrapping of centrally-set housing targets and replacing them with a system of financial incentives for local councils to build.
As expected, the green paper also includes introducing a presumption in favour of sustainable development at the base of the system, whilst giving neighbours the right to force the council to review a planning application.
However the Tories said they will limit the right of residents or developers to appeal planning decisions once the decision has been taken, and will replace the planned introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy with a “tariff”.
In addition the paper commits the party to abolishing the Infrastructure Planning Commission and developing a national planning framework which would stop “unsustainable urban sprawl”.
Taylor Wimpey is the first major housebuilder to endorse the Conservative Party’s planning green paper, with chief executive Peter Redfern saying the company could “work with” the proposals.
Tory leader David Cameron said: “Our planning green paper, outlines proposals to use 'open source democracy' and neighbourhood involvement to encourage sustainable development. A system that was controlled by a few can be run by the many".
Caroline Spelman, shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, described Labour's planning system as "bad for democracy, bad for the environment and bad for business.”
She said: "Too many decisions [were] taken by unelected quangos, there is too much unnecessary red tape and there are no incentives for local residents to back sustainable development. We will put local communities in the driving seat."
Our planning green paper, outlines proposals to use 'open source democracy' and neighbourhood involvement
The plans, widely leaked in advance, have been criticised by many in the development industry who fear councils will use the new found freedoms to avoid building homes.
The British Property Federation hit out at the plans to allow neighbours to force reviews of planning applications.
Chief executive Liz Peace said: ““House building is at its lowest level for generations and we need to kick-start construction without delay.
"Targets have failed and it’s clear we need to try out new innovative ways of making things happen but while there are some excellent ideas here, third party right of appeals would be a recipe for chaos. It would clog up the system and undermine everything the Tories have said about being pro-development.”
The CBI also questioned its practicality. John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The CBI agrees with the Conservatives that the planning system is broken, but it remains to be seen whether these proposals will fix it.
"We must replace the UK’s ageing energy infrastructure before the lights go out as a priority, and the Conservative proposals should be judged on their ability to fast track this kind of development.
“We welcome the presumption in favour of approving sustainable planning applications, and the financial incentives for local authorities to encourage development.
"However, given the natural tendency of constituents to oppose development, it is doubtful that even these incentives are enough.”