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October 1, 2020 10:33 AM

Cllr Paul Jacobs at the site of the proposed new housing development

This summer the Conservative Government announced proposals to rip up the planning system that has been in place since the 1947 Town and Country Planning act gave Councils control over granting local planning permission, with dire consequences for local communities.

The Conservative Government propose that they should hand out compulsory house building targets from London, to each Local Authority and create local zones in which development is automatically approved.

Councillor Paul Jacobs, ward member for Woodthorpe and Mastin Moor on Staveley Town Council, explains "Local residents have been concerned at how difficult it is to fight large scale planning application such as the 650 houses on green fields between Mastin Moor and Woodthorpe. Now it is about to become almost impossible to do so."

Under the new system no one will be able to have a say about most building projects and they will simply be waved through. Residents will only get the chance to comment when a local plan is drawn up that designates the areas that they live in or care about into one of three categories. Land will be classed as Protected (such as Green Belt); Renewal (such as areas like the former Staveley Steel Works); or Growth areas (such as the fields at Mastin Moor and Woodthorpe). Developers, given the complete freedom to choose, will of course prefer to build on green fields as it is easier and more profitable to do so.

This means the ability of the local council to influence or place requirements on proposed new housing will be lost. Paul Jacobs went on to explain saying "With these changes the Developers can just get on with it. Even the local planning committee at Chesterfield Borough Council won't be able to do anything to stop an inappropriate development. In effect these changes are an attack on local democracy and will result in poor-quality housing and a loss of control."