Westminster Labour called on the leadership of Westminster Council to work with them to build a cross-party campaign to oppose proposals to effectively privatise key areas of planning policy while taking decisions on key developments out of local control to unelected bodies answerable to the Government.
The Sunday Times wrote that Secretary of State for Local Government Robert ‘Jenrick and Johnson’s senior aide, Dominic Cummings, have set up a panel of experts to advise on radical reforms of planning laws that will hand control of decisions from local councils to development corporations owned by the government’. Reports also suggest they are going to give businesses ‘complete flexibility’ over change-of-use enabling property owners to switch between retail, residential, hospitality, office and other use classes without any local oversight or input from residents.
Adam Hug, leader of the Labour Group on Westminster Council said: “I have written to the Westminster Council leadership calling on them to publicly oppose this proposed power-grab by central Government. These proposals would give carte blanche for property owners and developers to ignore local needs and do whatever they want, harming communities and undermining efforts to make them help deliver social housing and other priories for our city”.
Geoff Barraclough, Shadow Cabinet Member for Planning said: “These proposals take us in completely the wrong direction. Instead of centralising planning decisions in Whitehall, we should be giving more power to local communities to decide what gets built in their area. The trade-offs between growth and sustainability are best decided locally.”
The initial response from the Conservative Council Leadership has been to restate their belief in the abilities of the Council’s planning department and their support for existing Government proposals to ‘streamline’ housing delivery, while avoiding comment on the proposals reported by the Sunday Times.