Press release: Valerie Vaz MP slams Government planning reforms as a developers’ charter, people’s nightmare

Rt Hon Valerie Vaz MP also raised local planning issues during an Opposition Day Debate on local involvement in planning decisions

“During an Opposition Day Debate on Monday 21 June 2021, I spoke out against the Government’s proposals to hand control over planning decisions to developers by preventing communities from being involved in developments in their area. These reforms are a developer’s charter; they will become the people’s nightmare.

Once again, I asked the Minister for Housing to launch an investigation into Walsall Council Cabinet’s decision making processes over the Narrow Lane Transit Site in Pleck.

The Report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee ‘The future of the Planning System in England’ published on 10 June 2021 found that 61% of people did not think that the planning process was fair.

Local people are already shut out of the planning process in Walsall with an opaque planning process and a lack of consultation with local people. The Government’s hopeless response is to exclude the public even more from this process, instead of improving what little influence they have now.

Ministers have claimed that these reforms are needed to “deliver the homes that we need”. There are over one million planning permissions that have not been built in the last decade, however no measures have been proposed to force developers to use these unimplemented planning permissions.

I support reforms which improve accountability in the planning process.

I asked the Government to mandate that every Planning Committee has a compulsory recorded vote for every decision that they make to increase transparency. The right of communities to object to an individual planning application must also be protected.

There is no mention of climate change in the Government’s White Paper on planning reforms. I asked the Minister to mandate that every new build should have solar panels on the roof.

Buildings and places do not exist without the people who breathe life into them, just as we have seen during the pandemic. I urged the Minister to listen to local people, give them back control and end the people’s nightmare.”