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Sun April 11 2021

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Councils voice planning reform doubts

13 Oct 15 The Local Government Association has spoken out against central government plans to reform the planning system to promote more house-building.

Local Government Association's housing spokesman Councillor Peter Box, who is leader of Wakefield Council, said: "Councils are desperate to see the homes our communities need built and to keep boosting struggling high streets. But every place is different and it is crucial residents have a say on new developments that will put additional pressure on schools, roads and hospitals in their area. A blanket national policy is not the answer.

"The planning system is not a barrier to development and councils are making good progress with getting complex and detailed local plans in place. Planning approvals are at a 10-year high, with nine in 10 applications being granted permission.

"We have concerns that the government has decided to permanently allow developers to convert offices into homes without the need for planning permission.

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"This temporary policy was designed to provide a new lease of life to empty offices but some councils have reported some existing businesses being evicted so landlords can cash in on higher residential rates and sale prices. Not only has this led to less of some of the office space needed for economic growth it has, in some cases, seen it replaced with homes which do not meet community needs and remain unaffordable.”

He concluded: "Councils are part of the solution in tackling our housing crisis and we urge the government to give them more powerful means to do so, for example stronger compulsory order powers to take on sites stuck in the system and powers to make sure developers prioritise brownfield sites."

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