Changes to planning laws being introduced could mean a “free for all for developers” in Redbridge.

On July 21 the Government introduced new laws meaning developers do not need to submit a full planning application before demolishing unused buildings and building homes or commercial and retail units.

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

On Sunday, the Government revealed it was consulted on further changes to the planning process, which would provide automatic approval to developments on land earmarked for growth.

'The Government hasn't thought this through'

Cllr Vanisha Solanki (Lab, Fullwell), a member of the council’s planning committee, said: “The planning process isn’t perfect but it needs control and rules otherwise you end up with poorly designed, and over developed areas.

“The Government hasn't thought this through and needs to work with local authorities on what changes are required.”

She explained that the last relaxation of planning rules meant office blocks could be converted into homes and retail units could open as takeaways “all without the requirement for planning permission or local input”.

The new rules would enable redevelopments like the one planned for the Harrison Gibson site, sent back to the developers due to a lack of affordable housing, to pass with less scrutiny from councillors.

Read more: Harrison Gibson plans sent back to developer

Cllr Solanki added: “Affordable and social housing is something we need in the borough, and I worry it’s something that will be overlooked by developers especially on land that is designated for renewal.

“The Prime Minister’s pledge to build, build, build will mean a heavy price for local authorities and local residents.”

Another member of the committee, Cllr Varinder Singh-Bola (Lab, Cranbrook), criticised the Government for failing to consult with councils before making the changes.

He said: “The Government’s lack of consultation with councils, who understand local needs best, makes it abundantly clear that these proposals are being rushed through.

“Our local communities deserve to have a greater say in shaping the regeneration that is taking place around us and in deciding what is right for our town.

“This disgraceful relaxing of planning regulations by the Government is all about helping developers and not about in the interest of local communities.

“It will not help us get the social housing and genuinely affordable homes that we so desperately need right now.”

When announcing the new laws, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.

“These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities.”

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