Conservative MPs yesterday refused to back a vote in the House of Commons to block the hated Developers’ Charter, a Government plan to hand control over planning decisions to developers and gag residents and communities from speaking out against inappropriate developments in their area.
In an Opposition Day Debate on Monday in the House of Commons, Labour called a vote to protect local people’s right to object to individual planning applications, after the Government announced plans to rip up the planning system in the Queen’s Speech. Labour’s motion argued ‘planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes.’
The Government’s proposed reforms of the planning system will remove powers from elected local representatives and hand them to Whitehall-appointed boards of developers while doing nothing to solve the growing affordable housing crisis. Boards will oversee a new zonal system that allows developers to build at will in areas designated for growth. Communities will be consulted only in the development of five-yearly local plans and will be gagged from speaking out over individual planning applications.
Conservative Ministers have claimed that the reforms are needed to speed up housebuilding, even though over one million planning permissions have not been built out in the last decade.
Some Conservative MPs have signalled their opposition to the reforms, expressing fears about the party’s cosy relationship with developers, but failed to act when given the chance yesterday.
The Conservative Party received £11 million in donations from developers in Boris Johnson’s first year as Prime Minister and £891,000 from developers in the first three months of 2021 alone.
Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes Council said: “The people of Milton Keynes should have a say over what happens in our community – that’s a basic principle of our democracy. We’ve got to build more homes, but that has to be done in the right way. The Conservatives’ Developers’ Charter is a plan to stop local people from objecting to bad developments in our area and give some of their biggest donors even more power to push through plans over our heads. That means we all lose the right to prevent awful monstrosities popping up all over our towns and villages – from green space, to playground to countryside, nothing would be off the table.
“It’s astonishing that MK’s Conservative MPs are pressing ahead with this plan. In Parliament yesterday, Ben Everitt and Iain Stewart had the chance to show that they are listening to the huge opposition to these plans – instead they showed they are determined to carry on regardless.
“It is the wrong plan, it’s an insult to the people of Milton Keynes who care about this community and we won’t stand for it. It’s time the Conservatives stopped listening to their donor friends and started listening to the people of MK.”
Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed MP said: “Voters have made clear they don’t like the Conservative Government’s Developers’ Charter, but despite many Conservative MPs saying they support residents’ right to have a say over developments on their own doorsteps, they refused to vote for it.
“The Developers’ Charter will gag the public and set wealthy developers loose to concrete over local neighbourhoods and green spaces at will. The Conservatives are paying back developers for bankrolling their party by selling out communities.
“By failing to back Labour’s motion Conservative MPs have shown that their support for residents is hollow and, yet again, they are taking their own voters for granted.”