A NEW government White Paper could have a disastrous effect on planning across Waverley, according to local MP Jeremy Hunt. Published last week, the Planning White Paper outlines measures to implement new centralised planning rules. The new proposal means that local communities would be stripped of their say over incinerators, rubbish dumps and sewage plants. Instead, new unelected "planning commissioners" would be able to make decisions that can ignore public opinion, because the government plans for fixed eight-year terms and no ability for their removal on grounds of their decisions mean that they are effectively unsackable and unaccountable. Shadow Local Communities Minister Caroline Spelman warned that the Treasury-influenced White Paper would "gag and bully local communities" and, when combined with ever higher stamp duty and rising council tax, would make it harder to get a foot on the first rung of the housing ladder. Mr Hunt is also opposing the measure, arguing that there needs to more rather than less local accountability in planning decisions for major pieces of infrastructure development that have significant local impact. "I am extremely concerned about the effects of the proposals set out in the Planning White Paper on South West Surrey," said Mr Hunt. "The way to improve the planning system would be to make sure that the voice of local communities is made stronger but the government has instead sided with larger developers and reduced local accountability. "Overdevelopment is a particular problem in a rural area like South West Surrey and, although I recognise the need for new affordable homes to be built, it is vital that local people still have a strong voice in influencing planning decisions that affect them."
MP slams new planning proposals
Thursday 31st May 2007 10:00 pm