Barnet’s Labour councillors have accused the Conservative councillors’ running Barnet Council of betraying their local election pledge to stop overdevelopment after they failed to oppose radical planning proposals put forward by the Government which would see most planning applications automatically granted permission.

The Government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ regime would give the green light to massive developments like the Victoria Quarter scheme on the old gas works site in New Barnet – without local people being able to comment on or object to the final planning application, and without a decision from the local Planning Committee.

The Government is consulting on ‘Planning for the Future’ but the Conservative councillors at last night’s Policy & Resources Committee (24 Sep) refused to support a Labour motion from Cllr Ross Houston to oppose the proposals.

The Government proposals have been criticised by industry experts including the Town and Country Planning Association, and cross-party politicians. The proposals have been described as a ‘Developers’ Charter’ that will create the “slums of the future”.

The main proposals will mean:

  • local residents are side-lined and not allowed to object to or comment on final planning applications
  • local planning committees no longer decide all major planning applications
  • automatic planning permission granted for all development in ‘growth’ areas if plans meet certain criteria
  • planning permission granted in principle for all development in ‘renewal’ areas, subject only to basic checks
  • poorer quality, sub-standard homes

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group and Spokesperson for Housing & Growth, Cllr Ross Houston said: “At the last local election the Barnet Tories pledged to stop overdevelopment, but when it comes down to it they are useless and just don’t keep their promises.

“Tower blocks are already going up all over the borough, and now the Barnet Tories have refused to oppose the biggest shake-up of planning regulations in history which will mean even more tower blocks and overdevelopment blighting our communities. This is an abject betrayal of their local election pledge and their duty towards the local community.

“Under this new regime all the developments in the Borough that thousands of residents are worried about from Victoria Quarter in New Barnet, to the B&Q site development in Cricklewood, to the Homebase site development in North Finchley would likely be granted planning permission automatically with local Planning Committees and residents effectively gagged.

“The Government’s plans are reckless and will also likely result in poorer quality, sub-standard slum housing. This needs to be stopped, and I encourage everyone to respond to the Government consultation by the deadline of 11.45pm on 29 October.”

 

Ends.

 

Notes:

  1. A copy of Cllr Houston’s member’s item/motion to Policy & Resources Committee: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s60219/Members%20Items.pdf
  2. For criticisms of the Government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ see: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jul/05/slums-of-the-future-may-spring-from-relaxed-uk-planning-rules-experts-warn
  3. Government consultation on ‘Planning for the Future’ closes at 11.45pm on 29 October: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
  4. To sign Barnet Labour’s petitions on overdevelopment go to:
    https://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/2020/08/13/stop-the-government-overdevelopment-charter/
    https://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/2020/07/30/help-protect-our-metropolitan-open-land-from-destruction

For more information contact: cllr.r.houston@barnet.gov.uk

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