Ask Councillors and MPs to support a proposal to strengthen the Sustainable Communities Act

There is quite a lot of discussion going on in the Upper Calder Valley about various proposed new supermarkets.

A proposal to give local councils new powers on planning applications for large developments, could help communities to reach proper democratic decisions in these situations.

Ask Calderdale Council and parish councils and Craig Whitaker MP to support the proposal

Details of the proposal follow. If you think the proposal is a good idea, you might want to ask Calderdale Council, Hebden Royd or Todmorden town councillors, or your parish councillors and your MP  to support the proposal.

1,500 councils in England and several MPs, including the Communities Minister, Greg Clark, support the proposal. But as far as I can see from the list of supporting councils, neither Calderdale Council nor the Upper Calder Valley parish and town councils are among them.

Details of the proposal

The proposal originated in 2011 from Leiston Town Council in Suffolk and the Suffolk Association of Local Councils, as a result of being faced with a massive planning proposal for a supermarket development that was too complicated for Leiston Town Council to assess properly.

They came up with the proposal for the government to strengthen the Sustainable Communities Act, by changing planning guidance in a way that would help locally-elected decision makers. Specifically: the proposal would require applicants of major developments to:

– attend a meeting of the local Town or Parish Council, or of a duly called Town Meeting, to answer questions on the application for development; and

– fund the council or duly called town meeting to commission an independent report on the application and critique of any reports that the applicant has submitted in support of the application for development.

This would help level the planning application playing field, by making sure that the public and their local elected representatives would have the best evidence to base their planning application decision on.

There are more details about the proposal on the Local Works website. Local Works is a a coalition of over 100 community organisations, including Age UK, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Women’s Institute.

Local Works has prepared a downloadable action briefing for MPs (PDF), which contains the full proposal and rationale.