Cllr Matthew Bennett is the Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment, & New Homes, and is a councillor in Gipsy Hill.
Reforms to reduce local people’s involvement in the planning process will be a gift to private developers and deliver fewer affordable homes, Lambeth Labour has warned.
Today’s announcement (6th August) by the UK government of reform to planning rules includes plans to scrap existing obligations on developers to fund community facilities and new affordable homes as part of developments, and is centred on a desire to remove local oversight and democratic control over planning policy.
Cllr Matthew Bennett, Lambeth Cabinet member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, slammed the plans as a “developers’ charter that would allow private companies to dodge development tax and affordable housing commitments.”
He said: “In Lambeth, we have worked closely with communities on our new planning Local Plan – supporting sustainable development which benefits local people. That includes working with local communities that have put forward their own proposals for their local area, like the Waterloo Neighbourhood plan.
And we have a strong track record of getting a good deal from developers, as one of the best boroughs for delivering affordable housing from development (such as the 70 brand new council rent homes delivered at Lollard Street in Kennington or the 64 new council rent homes on the Westbury estate).
These deals wouldn’t be possible under the government’s plans, robbing local families of new council rent homes when instead councils should be empowered to get even better deals from developers.
We also committed in our 2018 manifesto to increase the tax on developers to fund investment in our local communities and we are in the process of delivering that. Our recent capital investment programme set out £132 million of investment in schools, housing, libraries, parks and tackling climate change funded through taxes on developers – today’s announcement would take that investment away from the people of Lambeth.
Even Conservative councils and independent bodies like the Town and Country Planning Association have condemned these plans. If the issue is delivery of homes, the government should fund investment in new affordable housing in places like Lambeth where we have consistently delivered above our targets.
But instead of working with councillors and local communities, we have a high handed and arrogant government with a scandal-hit Secretary of State handing power to developers that fund the Conservative party and who want to dodge development tax and affordable housing commitments.