Saddleworth Parish Council has delivered a comprehensive response to the Government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’.
The document was unveiled by the Housing, Communities and Local Government minister Robert Jenrick in August and puts forward plans to overhaul the ‘outdated’ planning system in England.
A public consultation was held until October 29 and Saddleworth Parish Council took the opportunity to send in its comments.
The Parish Council organised a series of extra meetings of the full Council and the Strategic Planning Committee to analyse the paper and how the planning responsibilities of the Council and residents of Saddleworth would be affected by potential reforms.
The Council acknowledged there were some positive aspects to the White Paper – in particular, the strengthening of the enforcement function of Councils, and the improved standardisation and digitisation of the planning system.
But it also highlighted negatives, lack of detail contained within the policy, the centralisation of policy with a lack of local influence, and the erosion of the ability of elected representatives to speak out for their residents.
Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee Barbara Beeley said: “This proposed reform would be the largest change in the planning system since 1947, yet the White Paper misses out a lot of crucial information on how the changes would work, which made it very difficult for the Parish Council to respond in full.
“However, the importance of this response meant that we invested as much time and effort as we could to ensure that we represented the 25,500 people of Saddleworth who will be affected by these changes.”
There is currently no confirmed timeline for a Bill to be brought forward based on the responses to the White Paper.
Find out more about the plans online:
Meanwhile, the Parish Council has completed the first phase of consultation on its Neighbourhood Plan.
The Council is now taking up residents’ concerns with the Home Office and the Communities Minister, as well the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities and Oldham Council.
Of 225 responses on community safety, nearly 60 per cent wanted increased police presence – more officers, PCSOs, or just more visible presence in the villages.
Cllr Beeley said: “While the Parish Council can push the case for more policing, the decisions on funding and police numbers are made by the Home Office and the Greater Manchester Mayor.
“Obviously, such a strong response needs to be communicated to the people making those decisions, and we shall make those representations on behalf of local residents.”
The Parish Council will also be taking up responses on the need for cycle routes and parking, which the GMCA and Oldham Borough Council are working on, and the continued need to protect green belt and other protected land across the area.
With Oldham Borough Council’s Local Plan currently under development, the Parish Council will ensure people’s responses on these issues are put forward as part of the consultation process.