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Solihull Council presents united front on controversial planning reforms

PLANS to relax planning laws would ride roughshod over local democracy and leave residents with little chance to object, councillors agreed this week.

PLANS to relax planning laws would ride roughshod over local democracy and leave residents with little chance to object, councillors agreed this week.

At Tuesday’s Full Council meeting, members from across the political divide rose to speak out against the proposals, which would allow extensions of up to eight metres without planning permission.

In a rare show of unity, councillors voted unanimously to register their concern about the proposals, which the Government believe will be a shot-in-the-arm for the building industry.

Coun David Jamieson, leader of the Labour group, introducing the topic, said: “To say that this is about cutting through red tape is a nonsense. Only five to ten per cent of all planning applications are rejected as things stand.”

Olton councillor John Windmill (Lib Dem) said that local authorities of all persuasions had been incensed by the idea.

“This is an affront to local democracy and the concerns of local people,” he told members.

The ruling Conservative group said they would not shy away from standing up to the Government over the plans.

Leader of Solihull Council, Ken Meeson, described the changes being mooted as “ill-conceived”, while his deputy, Coun Bob Sleigh, said: “Be under no illusions, as a group and as a council we believe this undermines local planning laws.”

During the debate, members also acknowledged that changes could lead to more rows between neighbours and allow developers to dodge requirements to build affordable housing in favour of more lucrative four or five-bedroom properties.

The Local Government Association has already called for the policy to be abandoned.

 

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