Proposed planning changes opposed

PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 July 2011




A NORTH Somerset councillor says proposals to change planning rules in England could cause ‘havoc’.

The Communities and Local Government Department have issued proposed plans to relax the planning rules when turning a commercial property into a residential property.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for planning Elfan Ap Rees has signed off a response to the consultation document on behalf of the council highlighting problems with the proposed changes.

In that response it states that the key priority for Weston is sustainable employment-led regeneration.

It says that with the town’s relatively poor level of self-containment, the weak local economy and the need to support and revitalise the town centre more housing without jobs will imbalance it further.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “I think it may be appropriate for some areas in the country.

“We don’t want to accept residential development that runs ahead of employment and we don’t want to lose employment land or see business premises converted.

“At the moment we are being very robust in the defence of our policies.

“In North Somerset our priority is to develop employment first.

“We need to be able to control the level of residential development in accordance with the amount of jobs and this could cause havoc.”

The plans come as there is an urgent need to increase the rate of house-building in England as it stands at a record low.

The Government believe that one of the key barriers to increasing housing supply is the lack of land and buildings available for residential development and conversion.

Cllr Terry Porter sees planning as a big issue for residents and thinks the council are able to protect them through planning rules.

Cllr Porter said: “You don’t want to stop things happening but planning rules are there to protect existing people.

“I can understand why they want this in some cities, to change houses into shops and then if they go out of business they may want to change them back.

“But there are a lot of rural areas where you don’t want it without going through the planning process.”

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