As you may have seen, a number of changes have been made to the planning system in response to the coronavirus crisis, including ending the need for in-person consultation and pushing the process online.
Obviously, the traditional methods of scrutinising planning applications, such as holding public meetings, cannot be carried out safely in the current environment. However, I am concerned that these changes are slanted towards developers who could capitalise on the current crisis to rush through controversial planning decisions.
These new rules reduce the ability of residents to contribute to the planning process and lock-out residents who have reduced access to technology or are less technologically savvy. In particular, these changes will disenfranchise older residents and residents in more rural areas.
I have written to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and raised these concerns with him and you can see my letter below.
I have always supported and advocated for a planning system that puts long-term concerns such as environment protection and community cohesion ahead of short-term profits for developers. After all, once the developers have pocketed their cheques, it is the residents that have to live with what has been left behind.
This is the view that I will take whenever this issue is raised in Parliament, including when the Planning White Paper is introduced.