A number of organisations, including the National Trust, have voiced their concern about the actual potential for local input into planning proposals. First of all, the Coalition’s pledge to give local communities more control over development in their area is being undermined by Government inspectors who are telling councils to allow more house building, whilst elsewhere research by the National Trust and YouGov has indicated that not enough people are willing to get involved in planning decisions in their local area to make them successful.
Local authorities have been asked by the government’s Planning Inspectorate in recent months to amend their local plans so that they provide more land for homes, allocate more rural land for development and even give up Green Belt for construction projects. Cases include South Oxfordshire, which was told to allocate an extra 255 homes to greenfield land, and Harborough, in Leicestershire, which had to increase its target for rural house building by more than 2,000. This has raised concerns over the actual potential for local input into planning policy.
There are fresh concerns over the threat of urban sprawl following a survey by us that finds that the majority of people are unlikely to get involved in local planning decisions in their area. Our research indicated that few people were aware of the government’s proposals to alter the planning laws dramatically, and even fewer had the desire to address planning issues in their local area. This reinforces our fears that the new laws would play into the hands of developers, who have the time and resources to participate in planning applications and want to develop on greenfield rather than more expensive brownfield sites.