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Agenda item

White Paper Consultation: Planning for the Future



The Government launched a White Paper with proposals for restructuring the planning system, called “Planning for the Future”. This report considers the Council’s formal consultation response, and some of the likely key implications.




That the responses to the questions, set out in Appendix B to the report, form the Council’s response to the Government’s Consultation on the White Paper: Planning for the Future.


The Chairman informed the Cabinet that this would be the last Cabinet meeting attended by the Head of Regeneration, Teresa Ryszkowska, who was retiring from the Council. He highlighted the outstanding contribution that Mrs Ryszkowska had made to the work of the Council and the Borough at a time of enormous change and challenge for Dartford and wished her and her family well for the future.  


The Head of Regeneration thanked the Chairman for his kind works and said that she had enjoyed her time working at Dartford and the opportunities that this had provided. She then introduced a report which detailed proposals for restructuring the planning system contained in the Government White Paper, “Planning for the Future”. The report outlined the background to the proposed changes, the key implications and the Council’s formal response to the consultation, ending on 29 October.


Members were reminded that the Cabinet had considered the proposals contained in another consultation on “Changes to the current planning system” at its last meeting which could have an immediate and direct impact on local authorities, resulting in potentially very significant housing pressures on the Council. In contrast, the current White Paper outlined possible structural changes to the planning system over a longer timeframe, although at this stage it lacked much detail in certain areas.

The proposals were driven by the Government’s perception that the current planning system processes are too complex, outdated, slow and failing to deliver the Government’s national targets for the number of new houses. There was also a recurrent emphasis on national simplification/ modernisation of the system through technology, reform of the Local Plan, new  types of planning applications, an emphasis on design, a move away from local discretionary decision making and seeking to achieve predictability and speedier decision-making for developers.

The Council’s proposed response acknowledged that whilst there might be scope to simplify planning requirements and opportunities to improve urban design there were key concerns particularly about the reduced local political and public input to planning decisions, increased house-building through binding centralised targets that were contentious and ambitious and that the overall impact on quality was unclear. There were also concerns about the proposal to fund infrastructure using a single levy based on sales values and the outcome of the proposed infrastructure and affordable housing funding shifts were not fully clear. An oversimplified approach to major development could also adversely impact proactive areas such as Dartford where there was significant large scale development.


The Chairman noted that the Cabinet Advisory Panel had fully supported the proposed response to the consultation and had voiced its concerns about some of the possible changes to planning. He felt that Dartford’s proactive approach to planning struck the right balance and that if more local authorities did likewise there would be no impetus for some of the proposed changes. He was concerned about the reduction of public input to decision making and that oversimplification of planning requirements could also lead to building control concerns and lack of information about where development was taking place. The Head of Regeneration said that there would be ‘zones’ where a developer could obtain ‘permission in principle’ but that the developer would still need to register this with the Council and would need to get technical approval. However there would be less scope for residents to get involved which could give rise to dissatisfaction.



That the responses to the questions, set out in Appendix Bto the report, form the Council’s response to the Government’s Consultation on the White Paper: Planning for the Future.

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