To receive a report from the Executive Director Place setting out a Council response to the Government’s Planning White Paper – Planning for the Future.
Councillor Caliskan moved and Councillor Savva seconded the report of the Executive Director Place on the Council’s response to the Government’s White Paper – Planning for the Future.
1. Councillor Caliskan in proposing this report highlighted the following:
· The report set out the Council’s response to the Government consultation on major changes to the planning system.
· The administration was supportive of some of the proposals in the consultation, including those which would streamline local planning processes, putting maps at the heart of local plans and increasing the role of good design. But they were also very concerned about the government proposals and felt that they also should be of great concern to Enfield residents. Councillor Caliskan invited all councillors to add their voices and to ask the Government to urgently rethink the proposals.
· Although acknowledging that there was a need for more houses in Enfield, Councillor Caliskan thought that the Government was wrong to put all the blame for restricting development on the planning system. This view was too simplistic.
· More clarity was needed on the mechanisms for distributing housing targets and a need to reflect specific local circumstances. A large part of Enfield was made up of the green belt and strategic industrial land.
· On top of this the administration were very concerned that the proposals were a threat to local democratic decision making as they would effectively give national government control over local decision making.
· Concerns had been raised by many people and the proposals had been publicly criticised on all sides. Local residents had strong view on planning matters which they had a right to have heard. The views of residents’ matter.
· There was no mention of town centre regeneration. Town centres were important areas for development and are often areas with quality heritage and great potential for growth. Residents want to be able to meaningfully influence the future of their town centres.
· The uncertainty bought in by the white paper would hamper growth.
2. The comments of the majority group including:
· Concern that although there were some positives most of the proposals in the consultation were negative and damaging to local democracy.
· The planning system was not an obstacle to development.
· Carbon neutral economic growth was important to quality of life. There was no mention of the climate emergency. The proposals could be damaging to environmental and ecological standards. It was a missed opportunity to embed sustainability in the planning system.
· The proposals would do little to address the growing need for temporary accommodation, as there was no new funding to deliver new homes.
· Concern reflected in comments made at a recent Environment Forum about the threat to the green belt and the need to protect the natural and historic built environment
· That this would be a developers’ charter and would take decision making away from local councils and affect the amount of fees the local authority could charge to pay for planning services.
· The proposals would result in the loss of office space and other local facilities, whilst taking away what little funding for infrastructure there was.
· The zoning proposals were inappropriate, too broad and would take power away from locally elected decision makers.
· Planning decisions would become more centralised and too many decisions would be delegated to officers.
3. The comments of the majority opposition group:
· Support for a significant part of views expressed in the administration paper.
· Ninety percent of planning applications were approved. The problem with delay in developing sites, lay with the developers who were able to stockpile land, due to flaws in the current legislation.
· Concern about the proposal to put all land in three different zones which was felt to be too blunt an instrument. The public would lose the right to have a say on individual applications.
· No support for the proposal to add additional stories to buildings without the need for planning permission.
· No support for watering down the protections around conservation areas which should be protected and enhanced.
· Support for the idea of a design code but concern that it would not be flexible enough.
· The opposition had already met senior government officials and written to the minister expressing their concerns.
· Concern about the increase in permitted development rights and the increase in high rise buildings.
· The Government’s proposals would have a significant impact on the way that we live. The planning system did need reform, but not the type of reforms proposed in the Government’s white paper.
· Support for the proposal to shorten the local plan adoption process, but concerns about the algorithm for deciding on the number of homes to be built in each authority.
· Concern about the lack of focus on disabled people and disabilities.
· Opposition members did not want to see local democracy undermined but could not support the administration’s paper opposing the government planning proposals because they felt that the paper did not go far enough. No amendment to the report was proposed.
4. The comments of the minority opposition group:
· Major concern about the erosion of democracy
· Support for the provisions on design.
· Concern about the removal of the contributions to affordable housing and lack of support for homes to rent.
· The need for truly affordable housing based on average local incomes.
5. The summing up by Councillor Caliskan. She was pleased that the opposition had written to Government ministers separately and in the spirit of transparency would like to see a copy of the letters. Rather than watering down, the Labour administration was keen to champion protected areas. She felt that areas did need clearer protections and that the opposition should join with the administration in not supporting the Government reforms. Councillor Caliskan said that Enfield residents would find it difficult to understand why the Conservative councillors were not supporting a report of the Council which opposed the Governments planning proposals. She suggested voting in that way indicated that the Conservative Councillors did support the planning proposals despite what they said in their speeches.
After the debate the recommendation in the report was agreed, after a vote with the following result:
AGREED to note the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation on the Planning White Paper “Planning for the Future”.