Later today, Thursday 8 October, Parliament will be debating the Government’s proposals for planning reform and the future of house building. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of virtual participation, I am not able to speak in this debate. However, I know many of my constituents are deeply concerned about the Government’s plans and so I want to put on record my opinion ahead of this debate.
I firmly believe the Tories’ proposed reforms to the planning system represent little more than a Developer’s Charter. Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, his party has received £11 million in donations from property developers. These latest plans just go to show the increasing influence property developers hold over this Government.
Under the plans, power in decision making will be stripped from local, elected representatives and handed to Whitehall-appointed boards of developers. On the back of the recent Westferry scandal which undermined the public’s trust in the integrity of our planning system, the proposals to side-line local communities by stripping back democratic accountability will do nothing to restore faith in the system.
These changes will lead to local people no longer having the ability to formally object to inappropriate developments in their neighbourhood or even on their own street.
Participation in the planning process will instead be limited to consultation on the area’s local plan every few years. While the Tories remove the voice of local people over planning applications, Labour wants to see local people and their elected representatives given a bigger say over the development of their neighbourhoods, not less.
Ten years of Tory rule has ripped up the rules on affordable housing. Mancunians want to own their own home, but can’t afford it. Mancunians want new housing, but Tory schemes such as New Starter Homes end up with no homes built. Mancunians want affordable rent, but end up paying extortionate rents for poor quality and unsafe housing.
We must fix our broken housing market, with high-quality, green, well-insulated, safe and secure, truly affordable homes for all those who need them. Unfortunately, the proposals put forward by the Government will do nothing to create the affordable housing our communities so desperately need.