Council to flag concerns at proposed planning reforms with Hertfordshire MPs

The government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper set out a series of major reforms to the planning system

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:23 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:24 am

Leading county councillor Stephen Boulton is to write to MPs in Hertfordshire to raise concerns about government proposals to reform the planning system.

The government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper – published last year – set out a series of major reforms to the planning system.

And in the Queen’s Speech last month (May) it was confirmed that laws would be brought forward ‘to modernise the planning system, so that more homes can be built’.

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The county council has already expressed views – as part of a national consultation – that any changes to the planning system should not be at the expense of public participation or accountable decision-making.

And while they recognised that a national infrastructure levy could simplify developer contributions, they warned that it could excuse smaller developments from payments.

But now the council’s executive member for growth, infrastructure and planning Cllr Stephen Boulton is to flag up the council’s concerns with MPs, to ensure they are aware of the views when the matter is debated in Parliament.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the council’s growth, infrastructure and planning cabinet panel on Tuesday, June 22, in response to a motion submitted by Liberal Democrat Cllr Steve Jarvis.

In calling for the letter to be written to MPs, Cllr Jarvis said the government appeared not to have taken into account council concerns such as public participation, accountability of planning decisions, the provision of properly funded infrastructure and the need to tackle climate change.

And he told councillors: “It is important to make sure MPs are aware of the detailed concerns that the county council expressed, in response to the consultation.”

He also pointed to the need for an assessment of the impact of the proposals on the county council's ability to deliver infrastructure required as a result of the growth.

And he said that once government proposals were clear it would be important to provide MPs with that specific information.

Labour Cllr Asif Khan also backed the calls for Cllr Boulton to write to MPs on behalf of the county council with the concerns, that he said were ‘cross party’.

Conservative Jonathan Kane suggested that the letter may have more strength if it was sent by district and borough councils, as the main local planing authorities.

But he said he generally supported the thrust of what it was trying to say.

The county council’s assistant director for growth and place Colin Haigh said the letter would remind local MPs of issues of most concern to the county council.

And Cllr Boulton suggested it may act as an ‘extra kick, to see if it makes a difference’.

The meeting of the growth, infrastructure and planning cabinet panel was held on Tuesday, June 22, and can be viewed at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/watchmeetings.