Three-quarters of councillors say planning system is skewed in favour of developers

The government's expected white paper should facilitate local democracy

Image: Albert Bridge

Local communities are not getting a say in planning decisions because the system is weighted in favour of developers, a new survey suggests.

Ahead of the government’s white paper on housing, the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the National Trust asked 1,200 English ward councillors for there views on the planning system in their areas.

The key findings show significant dissatisfaction with the way planning decisions are made, and the impacts they have on local communities.

  • 72 per cent of councillors said that the system is too weighted in favour of developers at the expense of local communities
  • Half of councillors say sites that are not in line with the local plan are being approved for new housing
  • Half of councillors believe planning departments are not adequately resourced
  • 58 per cent of councillors with Green Belt in their area think that their council will allocate Green Belt land for housing in the next five years

‘The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live,’ commented Jonathan Carr-West of the LGiU. He warned that many councillors — the most important link between communities and the system — ‘feel this democratic tool is being undermined.’

The LGiU and National Trust expressed concern that the housing white paper, expected later this month, could fail to take account of greet belts, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other local concerns.

They call on the government to facilitate local democracy through its plans, by ensuring councils and local planning authorities get their say in planning decisions.

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