If elected to lead Westminster Council in May Labour Councillors will introduce a series of reforms to ensure the planning system works for the many not the few. For too long Westminster Conservatives have treated residents as an afterthought in a planning process geared towards the needs of major developers. We think it is time for a change, particularly in the wake of the public scandal around the excessive use of hospitality and the overbearing political influence of Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis.
Westminster Labour’s planning reforms would include:
- Preventing councillors from accepting hospitality from individual developers and their agents
- Requiring the council to record all meetings between Cabinet or Planning Committee Members and developers. Officers should always be present and a summary should be published online.
- Giving residents the right to speak at planning committee meetings to present their case-Westminster is virtually alone amongst local authorities in preventing residents from doing so.
- Providing more information explaining how the planning system works, including jargon busting, to help residents have their say.
- Establishing a ‘Design Panel for Westminster’ to allow professional architects, other experts and interested residents to give external advice to planning committees on design aspects of major planning proposals.
- Creating a new strategic projects planning committee with a large membership to prevent major applications being dominated by the whims of over-powerful individual councillors.
- Scrapping the Council’s Tall Building Strategy to restrict the spread of towers across Westminster.
Labour will push through these changes while ensuring that private developers contribute their fair share of social and genuinely affordable housing in the city.