Lib Dems on Kingston Council have formally rejected the Conservatives' call for both increased home-building targets in the Borough and the removal of local residents' input on planning, as the Government attempts a blatant power grab on planning, at a vote passed last night.
Whilst Liberal Democrats believe in local democracy, allowing residents to engage with the planning process, Kingston's Tories last night sat unwilling to question their colleagues in Government by refusing to vote in support of the Council's response.
It comes after the Conservative Government have made significant changes to planning law allowing developers a carte blanche to add up to two floors on blocks of flats and demolish and rebuild empty buildings, as well as allow people to add multiple floors to their homes all without planning permission.
But with their White Paper on Planning, the Tories want to go even further, risking over-development across Kingston by:
- taking away the right for local people to have a say on developments in their area,
- increasing the Borough's home-building targets – set by computer algorithm – to over 1,500, and
- removing any ability the Council has to insist that affordable homes are included in developments.
Kingston Lib Dems recognise the need to build more homes, but the Tories' reforms are completely unnecessary. Currently councils across the UK approve 9-out-of-10 applications, and in the past five-years Kingston Council has approved over 4,620 new homes – but fewer than half have actually been built. It's clear that the planning system isn't the barrier to new homes being built, but an under-delivery of the home-building industry.
The vote on the Council's response to the white paper, despite silence from Kingston's Conservatives, was passed. The full Council response can be found here.
Recently, local Lib Dems have also set up a campaign calling on the Conservatives to reconsider their changes to the planning system which has attracted over 700 signatures to date.
Cllr Rebekah Moll, Portfolio Holder for Planning Policy and Culture, said, "Despite the fact that Councils approve the vast majority of planning applications, the Tories insist that local democracy is where the issue lies. Instead of tackling the actual problem of under-delivery by the home-building industry, the Conservatives are in the pockets of developers, grabbing power on planning from local residents and failing to deliver the solution we need.
"Local Tories confirmed that by staying silent at last night's vote, so we will continue to campaign against these proposed changes and encourage everyone, regardless of party, to back our petition to the Government to stop this happening."
Click here to help stop Tory plans to force over-development in Kingston by signing our petiton.