Published: Wednesday, 8th March 2023
Sevenoaks District Council has broadly welcomed the Government’s proposed changes to national planning policy.
In a detailed response to the Government’s consultation for the new ‘Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - reforms to national planning policy’, the Council backed many of the Government’s ideas.
This included continued protection for strongly performing Green Belt, providing new infrastructure for new housing and building new homes that meet local needs.
Crucially, the reforms propose to penalise landowners for land banking, a practice when developers choose not to build new housing after planning permission has been granted.
There was also more powers to allow councils to protect the character of their areas and support neighbourhood plans that encourage local people to have a greater say on new developments in their communities.
Cllr Julia Thornton, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Development & Conservation, says: On balance, we are broadly supportive of the Government’s new approach to planning policy set out in its Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill consultation. I am pleased they have listened to some of our concerns.
“We know our residents care deeply about the Green Belt so the proposals to offer greater Green Belt protection will be warmly welcomed by our communities.
“Tackling land banking is also a positive step forward. We have several prominent sites within the District that already have planning permission for a significant number of new homes. Yet despite the permissions being in place, some for many years, the developers have chosen not to move these sites forward. This is a huge source of frustration to our communities and the Council as we have few powers at present to take action.
“While further details are still needed, we feel these reforms to national planning policy are a step in the right direction.