Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats response to the White Paper proposing changes to the Planning System
The Government's White Paper is designed to bulldoze the planning system - a system that has been incrementally evolving since its inception in 1947. In our response to the White Paper, Sevenoaks Liberal Democrats highlighted our concerns in the following areas:
- Setting artificial deadlines for Local Plans and decisions will put undue pressure on decision makers. Many of the consequences of planning decisions taken today will be with us for a century or more. It is essential that decision-takers are permitted sufficient time to properly consider applications and local plans.
- The new "standard method" of calculating housebuilding targets appears to ignore local constraints on land for building. Over 90% of Sevenoaks District is currently within the Green Belt. It will not be possible to meet these significant increases to targets without removing protection from and building on significant areas across the district.
- Allowing any development to proceed in specific areas so long as it conforms to low-level planning guidelines without reby minimising local planning oversight would reverse devolution and undermine local democracy. Why ignore local knowledge?
- The proposal to fast-track"beautiful" development is a can-of-worms best left unopened. What might be a beautiful addition to a Stratford or Swindon street-scene might seem pretentious or monstrous in Sevenoaks Town or District. This "one size fits all" approach to beauty will not work.
- Developers need to be obliged to pay a fair share of the wider costs resulting from their developments. Furthermore, the financial benefits of changes to land use should be shared by local communities. Payments toward infrastructure should continue to be made before they have to be spent - local councils should not be obliged to shoulder the risk of private developers without any of the reward.
- Future developments in Sevenoaks District need to minimise reliance on cars, maximise green open space, and ensure adequate provision of affordable housing.