London Green Belt Council welcomes proposed countryside protections but fears for local democracy

The London Green Belt Council, of which CPRE Kent is an associate member, has described government proposals for reform of the planning system as “a mixed bag”.
It applauds the provision of some countryside protection in the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty but is disheartened by the threat to local democracy and restriction of community involvement in the planning process.
Responding to today’s (Thursday, August 6) publication of Planning for the Future by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Andy Smith, secretary of the London Green Belt Council, said: “We welcome the government’s pledge to protect Green Belt and AONB countryside from development, but we are disappointed that ministers have missed this opportunity to strengthen local democracy and have instead opted for policies that circumvent local communities.
“We are also concerned about potential reductions in building standards resulting from the government’s intention to ‘fast-track’ developments at the expense of quality and the environment.”
The LGBC will be participating in the government’s consultation on the White Paper and is urging communities throughout London and the South East to “have their say, and to bring pressure to bear on ministers to ‘think again’ about planning”.
Mr Smith adds: “The priority for any reforms to the planning system in England should be to increase public participation and to improve the quality and environmental sustainability of new developments.
“While the White Paper’s reaffirmation of the important role of the Green Belt is very welcome, there is a danger that the current proposals from ministers will lead to a massive reduction in local democracy and accountability, which will harm the environment and will benefit only the developers and their profits.”

  • For more on Planning for the Future, see here

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