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Brown's new planning rules 'consign local democracy to the scrapheap'

8th December 2006

Local people to lose their say on major new developments

Harriett Baldwin, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate West Worcestershire, today criticised potential new planning laws, laid out in a report commissioned by Gordon Brown. The controversial proposals in the 'Barker Review' include:

  • New central planning quango: A 'Planning Commission' will be created to decide major planning applications, with no local council or Ministerial accountability. It will rule on waste sites, incinerators, power stations and power lines, transport and even some large-scale housing estates. This represents a major centralisation of planning policy and the abandonment of local and national democratic input in planning.
  • Regional assemblies to rip up the Green Belt: The regional assemblies will be directed to "review" the Green Belt across England, irrespective of the wishes of local people and giving the green light to concrete over them. The regional assemblies are unelected and the electorate have no democratic ability to challenge decisions. This transfer of powers is despite regional government being rejected in the North East referendum in 2004.
  • Weakening controls on out-of-town development: Currently, local councils can reject proposals for new supermarkets and retail development outside towns due to lack of demand for new sites. This power of discretion is to be removed, weakening urban regeneration and undermining small shops in local high streets.

Harriett Baldwin commented,

"We do need to build more homes and speed up the planning system. But I am strongly opposed to Gordon Brown's plans for a new undemocratic government quango to impose development across Worcestershire. And the extension of powers for the unelected regional assemblies to rip up the Green Belt is deeply unwelcome. These decisions should be made at the most local level possible."

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