Liberal Democrats have warned that the Government’s planning proposals will “disempower” local authorities like Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and allow developers to “run roughshod” over local communities’ wishes.
A motion accepted at the Party’s Autumn Conference, making it official party policy, lays bare the risks of the Government’s proposals, which the Party argue amount to a Government “power grab” that will reduce investment in affordable housing urgently needed in Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Wednesbury and West Bromwich.
In supporting the motion, Liberal Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to challenging the move through the Government’s consultation process, and rejected the “reduction of local control” in places like Sandwell.
Instead of going ahead with planning reforms, the party is calling on the Government to match the Lib Dem ambition to build 100,000 social homes for rent every year.
Sandwell Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Planning, Nigel Fearn said:
“People living in areas like West Bromwich are the people best placed to make sure planning decisions shape our communities for the better. But this Conservative Government’s planning reforms will strip away local people’s ability to shape those decisions and is a developer’s charter.
“With nine out of ten planning proposals approved nationwide, it’s certainly not the planning system that is causing problems. “Liberal Democrats in Sandwell wholeheartedly object to these proposals, which do nothing to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, undermine our climate commitments and put our local heritage at risk.”
He also pointed out that planning for one million houses has already been approved, and that the government should concentrate on getting developers to build the houses that have already been approved, rather than relaxing planning regulations.
Liberal Democrat Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson Tim Farron said:
“The Conservatives’ planning power grab will disempower local people and local authorities alike, and lead to even fewer affordable homes being built.
“Instead of addressing the root cause of the housing crisis, the Tories’ proposals serve the interests of wealthy developers, giving them carte blanche to run roughshod over local communities’ wishes.
“Liberal Democrats at every level of Government will do everything in our power to ensure our voice is heard through the consultation process. We are also calling on the Government to act now to address the housing crisis, by matching the Liberal Democrats’ ambition to build 100,000 social homes for rent every year.”