At the meeting of Sutton Council on 23 November – the first Council meeting chaired by Trish as our Mayor – Council passed a motion expressing concern at the threat to democratic decision taking from the proposals of the Government to change the planning system.
Councillors noted that the proposals would lead to automatic approval of many developments with the voice and opinions of local people removed from the planning system. The requirements for new developments to include affordable housing would be severely eroded and the housing target for new building in Sutton increased from 427 units to 1122 units. This latter figure is impossible to achieve without massive increases in the density of housing, undermining the pleasant, green, suburban feel of Sutton.
As local Councillors, we have always been active in looking at planning applications in our Ward and opposing those not good enough to meet our high standards in Sutton. Recently we have been active on proposals in Brighton Road, The Ridgway and Hillcroome. Some proposals that we thought objectionable have been turned down, including putting two stories on the top of Northumberland House. If you scan down the posts on this website you will find numerous examples of planning applications where we have joined with local residents to get improvements or oppose what developers are proposing. It is our claim that since the last local election every time we have taken an application to Planning Committee because we thought it not good enough we have got the proposal rejected.
But now there is a major threat – the proposals of the Government to “reform” planning law are likely to, in many cases, remove the requirements for local consultation on planning proposals and act as a developers’ charter. We want to retain a system that, while it has defects, lets local people have a democratic say on what is built locally. It is too important a right for us to lose.