Wiltshire Council publishes its response to the government White Paper on planning
A welcome step forward
Wiltshire Council has published its response to the government's proposals for future planning systems saying they are a "welcome step forward" in delivering reforms.
The council's response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) report stresses any change must keep and enhance local democratic decision making in the planning system and reflect the council's commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030.
The response welcomes the government's aim to speed up the delivery of appropriate and locally needed development while enhancing design quality.
While many of the government proposals are welcomed the response raises some concerns. These include the proposal to create planning zones which may not be suitable for rural areas or attempts to move away from Community Infrastructure Levy levels being set locally. There are concerns on the potential for diminishing the community and public engagement in the planning process or reduction in status of the neighbourhood plans.
The response also points out enforcement officers need to have the powers and resources to do their jobs. Generally more details are needed in a number of areas in order to fully evaluate their effectiveness.
The response notes the high importance of housing in the White Paper but would like more detail on how this planning will align with local industrial strategies and how these in turn will impact on the demand for housing and infrastructure.
Asked what the top three priorities are for planning in the local area the council has responded:
- The development of active, connected communities with appropriate infrastructure with good numbers of integrated affordable housing.
- Better enforceable standards of design, place shaping and master planning.
- The development of new housing that is energy efficient in its fabric and zero carbon to run with on-site renewable energy generation to help address the local grid issues faced in the South West.
Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Property said: "This White Paper is an opportunity for a real step change in planning which could have a positive impact on developments for the future. While we welcome many of the proposals we have flagged some areas where we have concerns or would like more detail. Overall we want to ensure any changes to the planning system works for the people of Wiltshire and is in line with our approach to have appropriate and locally needed development which reflects our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030."
You can read the full response now - https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/s183322/wiltshire_council_planning_white_paper_response_2020.pdf.