New changes to planning law introduced by the Government “seem poorly thought out”, according to Waltham Forest Council’s leadership.

From September, developers wishing to demolish unused buildings for homes and commercial or retail properties will not need to submit a full planning application.

Homeowners will also be able to add up to two more storeys to their home through a “fast track approval process”.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP claims the reforms cut out “unnecessary bureaucracy” and will revive town centres with more enterprise and housing.

But Cllr Simon Miller, responsible for economic growth and housing delivery in Waltham Forest, accused the Government of taking a “planning by numbers” approach.

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Cllr Miller said: “Waltham Forest is committed to growth that delivers much needed housing and social, community and health infrastructure on both public and private sector land to meet the needs of local residents.

“We clearly welcome any reforms that remove red tape and facilitate housing delivery. However, some of the reforms seem poorly thought out.

“The new permitted development rights for new homes are complex and it’s difficult to see how this is a more efficient route than making a planning application.

“We believe that a proactive planning system should be designed with the aspiration of achieving good quality new homes for local people, rather than a “planning by numbers” approach which is difficult to understand.”

He fears the changes could lead to space with industrial or “less economically viable uses” being converted into profit-generating residential or office space.

He added: “I would have hoped that local authorities’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic would have demonstrated to Government that our organisations are responsible and responsive and that watering down regulatory services across the country is not a reasonable response to the failure of a few councils to properly plan for their areas.”

The Government is now consulting on proposals to grant “automatic” planning permission for housing developments on any land earmarked for growth.

Waltham Forest Council has consistently met and exceeded its target for new housing over the last three years.

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