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Plans will help repair "broken" planning system

Local Conservative parliamentary candidate Gordon Henderson has welcomed major new Conservative policies to reform England’s ‘broken’ planning system. A new system of ‘Open Source’ democracy and neighbourhood involvement will help deliver sustainable development across Swale. Whitehall targets and unelected quangos will be scrapped, to be replaced with collaborative working and new incentives to promote and reward local homes and jobs.

The new policies were revealed at a time when official Government surveys show only 1 in 3 people think they can influence decisions in their local area, and just 1 in 5 people think they can influence national decisions. Under a new policy initiative, entitled Open Source Planning, Conservatives will:

• Abolish the undemocratic and ineffective tier of regional planning overseen by unelected quangos. This would include scrapping the South East England Partnership Board.

• Use collaborative democracy to allow local communities to create ‘bottom-up’ local plans, helping Swale residents shape and protect the character of their neighbourhoods.

• Tackle the scourge of ‘garden grabbing’ and over-development in residential roads, giving Swale Borough Council new powers to protect the character of neighbourhoods.

• Reward Swale Borough Council and communities through incentives to encourage building new homes and businesses, in contrast to the current regime where Whitehall effectively grabs back the money raised from new homes and business.

• Maintain national Green Belt protection and other special protections for wildlife and the countryside, whilst allowing sustainable development elsewhere in accordance with the local plan.

• Use new local infrastructure blueprints to coordinate strategic matters crossing boundaries, with a new duty on public authorities – including the Highways Agency and Network Rail – to cooperate with Kent County Council.

• Abolish Labour’s new unelected and unaccountable central planning quango – the Infrastructure Planning Commission, whilst retaining a fast-track process to avoid planning inquiries taking years; and give Members of Parliament a new role to vote on and ratify national planning policy.

• Increase council and police powers to tackle unauthorised traveller sites and illegal trespass.

• Change Whitehall’s restrictive parking rules to ensure more parking spaces are provided in family homes and near local shops, taking the pressure off crowded residential streets.

Mr Henderson said:

“The Government’s planning system is a source of immense frustration and concern for many residents across Swale. Under Labour, planning rules are too complex and too many decisions are taken by unelected officials, ignoring the views of local residents.

“I am particularly pleased that this bold new Conservative vision will put Swale’s residents in the driving seat to help shape our community, transferring power from Whitehall bureaucrats and Labour’s unelected regional quangos.

“To be totally honest I didn’t realise until this week that the South East England Regional Assembly had been dissolved. That’s the good news.

“The bad news is that SEERA has been replaced by another unelected quango called the South East England Partnership Board, which is made up of representatives from the South East England Councils and the South East England Development Agency. Personally, I think all these organisations should be dissolved.

“Abolishing regional planning is a start that will help deliver new homes and jobs for Swale, whilst championing local democracy and protecting our local amenity and environment.”

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