Will Forster

Lib Dem Councillor for South Woking and Leader of the Lib Dems on Surrey County Council Learn more

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Woking Council backs Lib Dem call to challenge Government’s planning power grab

by willforster on 16 October, 2020

Woking Borough Council has unanimously agreed a Lib Dem motion to oppose the Government’s planning reforms which will reduce local people’s say on development and centralise control of the planning system.

The Lib Dems have warned that the Government’s planning proposals will disempower local authorities like Woking Borough Council and allow developers to run roughshod over local communities’ wishes.  Local authorities would be required to zone areas for growth and any development in these areas will be given automatic initial planning permission.

Despite the Government’s failed algorithm for A-Level and GCSE results, they now plan another algorithm to decide how many new homes to build across the country.  Surrey’s current building requirement could almost double from 3,290 new homes a year to 6,330.

New developments of up to 50 homes will no longer require any affordable housing.  This will further reduce the number of affordable homes being built, leaving the 1,556 families on the housing waiting list with little hope of being housed.

Last month, the Lib Dem Party’s Autumn Conference agreed to oppose the Government’s power grabbing planning proposals that will reduce investment in affordable housing in Woking and elsewhere.  At the Party Conference, the Lib Dems reaffirmed their commitment to challenging the move through the Government’s consultation process, and rejected the reduction of local control.

I am pleased the Council supported our motion at its meeting last night, and will oppose the planning reforms.  People living in Woking are the people best placed to make sure planning decisions shape our communities for the better, but this Conservative Government’s planning reforms will strip all that away.

With nine out of ten planning proposals approved nationwide, it is certainly not the planning system that is causing problems.  The Lib Dems wholeheartedly object to these proposals, which do nothing to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, undermine our climate commitments and will just led to yet more tower blocks going up in Woking.

These Tory proposals are an attack on local democracy, and deny people a say on new development. Local people have little influence on Woking’s development and the new planning changes will make this much worse. The idea that new tower blocks in Woking could receive automatic outline permission fills me with dread.

The desire to build, build and build will damage the environment and make the fight against climate change even tougher.  Following the Covid pandemic, we need to move away from yet more small flats aimed at commuters. The Conservatives need to understand that people’s needs have changed.

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