Local Liberal Democrat Councillors are appalled that the Government are ignoring the responses to their own public consultation to force through unwanted and unnecessary planning changes that will create thousands of substandard flats without any of the Infrastructure needed to support the new residences. Under new planning regulations, developers will be able to add up to 5 floors on top of existing buildings without needing to apply for Planning Permission. At the same time, additional changes will allow the demolition of empty shops and offices and their reconstruction as housing.
Clive English, Chairman of Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee said: Over half of the 326 organisations that responded to the Government consultation pointed out that the existing changes to extend permitted development rights had largely been a failure, producing small substandard flats without amenities and had deprived councils of the ability to collect funds for schools, doctors or other services through requiring Planning Applications. To extend a failed policy is to double down on failure, will produce more inadequate housing and deprives Councils of the ability to represent the public. Additionally, the ability to demolish empty offices or shops will encourage Landlords to force viable businesses into bankruptcy in order to profit from redevelopment.
Martin Cox, Liberal Democrat Leader of Maidstone Council added, "Worryingly this is only one of a number of proposed changes to the Planning system that will undermine Local Democracy and prevent Councils standing up for our Local Communities.