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Tenterden Town Council rejects government planning proposals, and warns of “an explosion of uncontrolled building on our valuable countryside”.


A powerful, wide-ranging and comprehensive rejection of government’s proposals to liberalise planning law and centralise decision-making was adopted last night (Monday, 5 October) by Tenterden Town Council.


The council heard that the government is criticising local authorities for not building enough homes. Nationally, more than one million homes have received planning permission which have yet to be delivered by developers.


In a report to the council, Cllr John Crawford, chairman of the planning committee, said: “The government is placing the blame of slow delivery at the wrong door, when they should be introducing levers to force developers to build more quickly”.


Cllr Crawford did not mince his words in responding to the government’s proposals, warning that if they passed into law, the Town Council would have little or no influence over where houses would be built in Tenterden, or ensure they met the needs of community.


He said the proposals were “reckless, unsound and unwarranted”. They would not solve housing needs by reducing existing planning controls, but would allow “an explosion of uncontrolled building on our valuable countryside”.


Cllr Crawford added: “Despite some faults in the current system, it embraces democracy by allowing Ashford and Tenterden councils and the local community to forensically examine and challenge planning applications submitted by developers.


“This ensures we as a community, get the best possible outcome for the right type of developments, built in the right place, in the right numbers.


“The government proposals will marginalise local decision-making, and substantially reduce consultation away from Ashford and Tenterden in deciding where developments should take place, and prevent councils analysing the sustainability of applications.


“The white paper is both combative and radical, but fails dismally to show any evidence that their proposals are right. Only that they follow the government’s agenda.”


He said that centralised control of planning would create an unwelcome “shift towards totalitarianism”; and would not allow local integration with the government’s biodiversity pledges to the UN.


“This white paper is long on aspiration and short on detail”, he continued. “The old proverb of ‘act in haste and repent at leisure’ is so pertinent in this situation. Unfortunately, the country will be repenting for generations if this white paper goes through.


“It has missed the mark by not understanding the real problem…. (It is) theoretical, biased and flawed, which would set the planning process back a decade.”


Cllr Crawford, who has championed Tenterden’s council and community by attending a succession of official meetings both nationally and regionally to discuss the government’s proposals, has asked for Tenterden Town Council’s response to be shared with Ashford Borough Council and Kent Association of Local Councils.


Following Monday’s planning committee meeting, Cllr Crawford said: ““The government is placing the blame on borough councils like Ashford for insufficient delivery, when they have no control on the speed of housing development - this is in the hands of the developer”.


If the government proposals go ahead, he said “your Town Council will then have little or no influence over where houses will be built in Tenterden, or to ensure they meet the needs of community.


“There are no firm policies on how affordable homes will be provided by developers through levies. New rules would not require sites up to 50 houses to provide affordable homes by developers. This is a serious step backwards.


“Ashford Borough Council is working hard with developers to ensure the housing needs for the borough are met over the next ten years, but they do not have the power to force developers to deliver the required homes at the right time.


“Tenterden Town Council has come to a conclusion these radical government reforms are seriously misplaced, and take away the democratic power from the community, who will be marginalised from the planning decision-making process.” 


  • Link to White paper, click here.