This summer the government announced nationwide changes to how local planning works, reducing the role of residents in decisions. At the same time, the changes will reduce the commitment of developers to local infrastructure and affordable homes, limiting their sustainability.
Minchinhampton Parish Councillor and Labour candidate for Minchinhampton at the May 2021 local elections, Mark Huband, said: “For a small town like Minchinhampton this represents huge difficulties. At present, the Parish Council can liaise with and advise Stroud District Council that there cannot be new developments without investment in the town’s infrastructure. The changes proposed by the government will mean a loss of local oversight by the people of Minchinhampton.”
The government’s aim is little more than a developer’s charter. Whilst the planning process is blamed for slowing up applications, in fact, construction is most often slowed by the companies themselves. There are currently over 4,500 homes in Stroud District which have received planning permission but for which work has not been done. These homes have been reviewed by the Council with the opportunity for communities to debate their costs and benefits.
“Environmental protection is one of the core objectives of why the planning system exists,” said Ashley Smith, Parish Councillor and Labour Candidate for Amberley and Woodchester. “Our ward sits on two of the key wildlife sites for the District, and I feel the responsibility of protecting them. These changes will make it much harder to do so. The Prime Minister has stated that he wants to “build, build, build” but I fear the only impact that planning deregulation will have is to harm the quality, location, and sustainability of housing development. Our environment is fragile, and we ought to be doing more to protect it, not less.”
Stroud Labour wants to fix the local housing market with environmentally friendly, affordable homes of high quality, to create secure housing for those who desperately need it. The government’s proposals will lead to low quality rented housing that does nothing to address our national and local housing and environmental goals.