Date published: 09 November 2020
West Lindsey District Council has responded to the Government’s consultation on ‘Planning for the future’ White Paper.
The Planning for the future consultation proposes reforms of the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process. It aims to bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.
The Council has sent a comprehensive 15 page document in response to questions put forward by the Government.
Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Owen Bierley said it was important that the Council submitted its response to the White Paper.
He said: “As a Local Planning Authority we are at the heart of and are responsible and accountable for the democratic planning process. The Council ‘wholeheartedly’ welcomes improved online access and digitisation of planning but we have concerns about how a nationalised standard format can be implemented and funded by smaller authorities who may be disadvantaged by this.”
Cllr Bierley who is also a champion for rural issues and representatives the Council on a number of groups, explained that as a rural district there are currently significant challenges for communities to engage in digital consultation’.
He said: “In many of our areas broadband coverage remains sparse and so while access to 3D and digital imaging is a significant benefit how will download speeds and equitable access to broadband to enable this be levelled up? As community leaders we also recognise that different people access information in different ways and they also have differing levels of interest in development and land use planning.”
The Council does not agree that Local Plans should be simplified as set out by the government. The principle of speeding up the plan preparation process is supported however, there is concern as to how the expectations for developing a robust evidence base and the meaningful engagement with communities, within a 30 month time-frame could be achieved.
The Council’s response goes as far as to say ‘the proposals put forward could significantly dilute the role of the Local Planning Authority, specifically in relation to the role of members and meaningful public participation’.
Neighbourhood Plans should be retained the Council claims as they are an important tool to allow communities to deliver sustainable growth in their local area. However, the Council would like to see the plans become more focussed and specific to avoid duplication and confusion over other policies.
Full details of the Council’s response
Leader of the Council, Cllr Owen Bierley