For years one of the major sources of local resident complaint to local councillors has been when a controversial development has been given planning permission and they had not been informed it was happening. Too often the reason was because they fell outside the narrowly defined area to which the council sent a notification letter. Westminster Council Conservatives have now come up with an answer to the problem of only some residents getting notification letters about planning applications in their area- not sending letters to anyone!
The Tories are proposing saving £100,000 by scrapping the delivery of local letters about new planning applications, moving the notification system online. Labour would welcome the development of a digital system that all residents can access to be updated about planning issues of interest anywhere in the borough. However with a third of Westminster properties changing hands each year many residents might not be aware of the need to access such information and with many older residents not fully able to access online resources cutting out all postal deliveries will mean many residents will not know what is happening in their area until it is too late to have their say.
Conservative Westminster Council is one of the only councils in the country not to allow residents to speak at planning committee meetings and it continues to prioritise the needs of big developers by letting them slide out of their obligations to build affordable housing. Labour would put residents first, allowing them to have their say at meetings and not only retaining the council’s delivery of planning notification letters but expanding it. Labour would widen the circle of residents in the immediate neighbourhood eligible to be informed about planning applications and find new ways to engage the wider community around major developments.
Labour Group Leader Adam Hug said “For years the Conservative Council have been putting the needs of big developers before local residents in the planning process. Now they want to make it even harder for residents to have their say on changes that could dramatically impact their lives. Labour would stop this short-sighted proposal and give residents a real say over how planning decisions are taken in Westminster.”