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Friday, 22 January 2016

KENSINGTON SOCIETY RINGS ALARM BELLS! SCRAP CLAUSE 43

YOUR FRIENDLY LORD
Clause 43 of the new Housing Bill comes to the Lords for a second reading on 26th January. 
It needs to be struck out.


If it remains it means Savills etc. will be able to “assess” and then “recommend” all major planning applications for the benefit of their developer clients. 
Neither the council nor the public will be able to stop anything!
WRITE NOW TO YOUR FRIENDLY LORD AND WARN HIM.




The Kensington Society writes....

You may have failed to notice a very concerning clause in the new Housing Bill.   We have written to our MP, Victoria Borwick, and Lords whom we know but we need more help and FAST.  
The second reading is on the 26th January in the Lords.  
Can we ask that, if you are as concerned as we are, that you write to Victoria Borwick, Victoria.Borwick.mp@parliament.uk, and to any and every Lord you know asking that this clause be removed from the Housing Bill?  It is not the only part of the bill which is concerning but this is one which was slipped in at the last moment and would ultimately cause great harm to us.  It is a loss of localism and local powers.
If you have any questions, please email Michael Bach (Michael Bach (michaelbach@madasafish.com) 

Your help is greatly appreciated,

Amanda Frame                                    
Chairman                                                
The Kensington Society                  

Briefing on New Clause 
A late Government amendment tabled just before Christmas – New Clause 43 – is a source of major concern. It proposes introducing a freedom for applicants to be able to choose who assesses their application. The applicants would have a choice of having their application considered by the local planning authority or by a private provider, such as a consultant.
Whilst the private provider would not be the competent authority for making decisions, they would be able to accept applications and work up a recommendation to the planning committee. This would mean that a private consultant, who normally work for the very same developers, could be presenting major applications to planning committees in the future, and perhaps even granting applications themselves for other applications under delegated powers.
Our concern is that at committee the Council's officers would be expected to advise the committee members and it is more than likely that a recommendation from a private licenced provider could well conflict with the authority's own interpretation of the local plan.
How residents would be able to object to private providers is another unanswered question, indeed how residents would react to private companies who are currently consultants being in the position to recommend planning permission is another matter all together. We are very worried that consultants with no knowledge of the special local circumstances of the Borough and no understanding of residents’ concerns would have considerable influence over the outcome.
Contrary to the explanation by the Minister – Brandon Lewis – that this is merely "providing competition for the processing of applications" and not about making planning decisions, which would remain with the local authority, this is effectively about privatisation of the Council’s planning service.
This move seems to us to have a number of key problems:
·       reduction in capacity and skills of the planning department would be greatly reduced if both income and responsibilities were eroded;
·       loss of expertise, understanding of local circumstances and local knowledge 
·       risk of loss of public confidence and perceived potential for corruption or at least conflict of interest
·       a recipe for conflict and an increase in legal challenges.

Most of all, the local community will perceive it as totally contrary to and riding rough-shod over the Government’s commitment to localism and reduce confidence in local decision making by introducing
·       the perceived potential for corruption or at least conflict of interest
·       the loss of expertise, understanding of local circumstances and local knowledge 
·       totally contrary to and riding rough-shod over the Government’s commitment to localism
·       a recipe for conflict and an increase in legal challenges.


3 comments:

  1. The Kensington Society is calling for residents help them prevent the proposed change in the planning laws. The new Clause 43 of the Housing & Planning Bill will receive its second reading next Tuesday 26th January. So this is extremely urgent.

    If approved, Clause 43 will enable the major developers to use their own paid consultants as their private planning "Assessors."

    These assessors will have the power to decide if their employers' planning proposals are acceptable. They, not RBKC planning planning officers, will recommend granting planning permission to the planning committee.

    Any resident objecting to an application will have to rely on the "integrity" of the developers' paid representatives, to even consider their objections. If the assessors claim not to have received any objections, they alone will be able to grant planning permission to their own clients. Apparently, there will be no publicly available records or website detailing the progress of major planning applications. All queries will have to be addressed to the assessors rather than officers.

    Under the proposed legislation, the Town Hall will be powerless to prevent any of this. The opportunities for corruption, public anger and litigation will be endless. Officers will leave RBKC to join the assessor firms and Kensington and Chelsea will be left to the tender mercies of the basement diggers etc.

    Residents, please write to as many peers as possible, asking them to ensure that the New Clause 43 is deleted from the Bill.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tired of Dishonesty23 January 2016 at 10:20

    We need to know who proposed Clause 43. Almost certainly this person has been paid by a developer to do so and he/she needs to be exposed.

    ReplyDelete

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