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200923 | Cornwall Council votes 63-3 to protest at proposed bonfire of planning controls

Cornwall Council votes 63-3 to protest at proposed bonfire of planning controls

Posted By theboss on 23rd September 2020

By Richard Whitehouse

Cornwall Council has agreed to send a “strong objection” to proposed changes to the planning system, after a vote which revealed deep divisions within the Conservative group.

A majority of councillors said it would be a “disaster” for Cornwall and reduce the amount of affordable homes built. They voted 63-3 in support of a motion critical of the government’s White Paper. But 30 councillors abstained.

The motion had been tabled by Liberal Democrat group leader Malcolm Brown and Mebyon Kernow leader Dick Cole. It received no support from Conservative councillors. But only three Tories could bring themselves to follow their group leader and actually vote against it.

The motion called on the council to send a strong objection to the government in response to consultation on its proposed shake-up of the planning process.

Cllr Brown said: “The planning process in general and local government’s role in trying to protect local communities and local landscapes is under threat from the white paper – more than any threat since the planning system was set up after the war.”

The Lib Dem councillor said that the proposals would take “vast powers away from local councils” by removing the ability to determine developments which would be built.

He added: “It is taking vast opportunities away from residents to try and influence planning decisions in their neighbourhood. They are being given opportunities that they are unlikely to take and denied opportunities to respond to planning applications that they will do.”

Cllr Brown said that it was a “threat to the landscape of Cornwall” as it would allow many more homes to be built in the Duchy.

He added: “Many people in Cornwall think too many houses are being built in Cornwall already.”

Cllr Cole said: “Cornwall is a special place and as elected councillors on the unitary authority we must see ourselves as custodians of Cornwall.

“We need a fair and balanced planning system that protects the Cornish countryside while allowing suitable developments to go ahead.

“It (the white paper) would be a disaster for Cornwall.”

Cllr Cole said that a new formula proposed by the government would increase the number of homes to be built in Cornwall “from 52,000 to an unbelievable and unsustainable 81,000”.

He added: “We need to oppose the proposals that affordable housing would no longer be built on sites with less than 40 or 50 homes.

“We should send a strong message to central government to rethink their approach to planning.”

Tim Dwelly, cabinet member for planning, said that he hoped that the motion would get cross party support saying that Conservative run councils elsewhere in the country had already indicated they were opposed to the proposals.

He added: “Our affordable housing numbers would be cut by at least a third every year from October onwards.”

Cllr Dwelly said that this would mean that 300 affordable homes would be lost every year which he said was “wrong.”

Conservative group leader Linda Taylor said that the White Paper was out for consultation and said that there was an opportunity for people to respond to that consultation.

She added: “The aims of this paper is to get the country building better designed, environmentally friendly homes and getting people onto the housing ladder.

“This is an opportunity to provide affordable housing for the young.”

Her colleague Olly Monk said: “This is a consultation document, it is a starting point for a conversation to develop a more effective system.”

He added: “It is to deliver more affordable homes for the areas where they are required.”

Cllr Monk claimed that in Cornwall the number of affordable homes being delivered had “stagnated”. However councillors later pointed out that Cornwall Council had been one of the best local authorities for delivering affordable homes in recent years.

Mebyon Kernow councillor Loveday Jenkin commented: “I sometimes think the Conservative group on this council is living in an alternative reality.”

She described the proposals as a “power grab” and said they were unsuited for Cornwall and would hamper the ability to deliver affordable housing.

BBC Local Democracy Service




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