THE Barker Report comes to some confusing conclusions, it states that the planning system is slow and needs modernising and yet it makes no specific recommendations to streamline the process at local level.
In fact, local authorities have speeded up the time it takes to determine applications, the report acknowledges this.
However, the report suggests the formation of a national planning guidance policy framework to provide clearer and more transparent national planning policy.
I disagree with this finding, it will mean yet another set of guidance that will slow the planning process, as national policy has little or no effect on local planning applications.
The type of guidance may only be applied to massive applications such as waste reprocessing and incineration plant at Ince Marshes. It will have no effect on the speed of process of planning applications in general.
Barker does, however, conclude that the appeals procedure is slow and all appeals should be processed within six months; that a new planning mediation service be used to resolve disputes outside the appeals procedure and it calls for a 50% reduction in ministerial call-ins.
All of this I agree with, but all of it rests outside the local planning procedure.
However, when it comes to Green belt I disagree with the report's findings. Barker says councils should allow more building on local green belt boundaries and take a more risk-based approach to regulations.
The present policy of Brownfield First is the right approach, especially in our borough.
There is no real problem with the present planning procedure at local level. It is transparent, and people have the opportunity to voice their opinion.
The recent application for the crematorium at Hooton is an excellent example of transparent democratic planning process.
The real issue in planning is the lack of housing and to blame the planning system is quite frankly wrong.
Private developers build nearly all houses; they do it not for the good of the community but for the good of their shareholders.
While councils and registered social landlords are prevented from building homes the spiralling cost of house ownership will continue to be beyond the reach of young people.
The planning system is not the problem, it is the lack of housing being built and that is because profit drives the system.
Soaring house prices puts up the price of building land and influences the design.
Developers want to build as many houses/flats as possible on to their land, so as to extract the maximum profit. That is why most housing developments today are three storeys, not because that is what we need or want.
If councils or registered social landlords were allowed to build houses, they would be built where they are needed, not where the developer can buy the land. They would be the right type of house, not designed to maximise the number of houses/flats on a site.
People need affordable housing and the best and only way to achieve this is to take the profit element away from the process.
Allow communities to build their own homes, in the right location to meet the needs of the people, within the guidance of the present planning system.
LATEST plans submitted to the borough council include:
ELLESMERE PORT : Certificate of Lawfulness - new detached garage at 50 Flatt Lane, for Mr T G Loftus; repair to brickwork including re-pointing and replacement bricks at Tap Wide Lock, at Boat Museum, South Pier Road, for British Waterways; re-location of CCTV column -retrospective (variation of cond 6 of previous approval P/03/931) at car park, Cromwell Road and Wellington Road, for Asda Stores Limited; garage conversion to habitable room at 17 Stroma Avenue, Stanney Oaks, for Mr and Mrs Martin; non-illuminated fascia sign and walled mounted signage at Unit 11 Junction 8, Business Park, Rossbank Road, for Wolseley UK.
LITTLE SUTTON: External roller shutter to front and side elevations at 446 Chester Road, for Cheshire Building Society; erection of 39 apartments and associated works at former Ross-more Road Service Station, Rossmore Road West, for George Wimpey (North West) Ltd; two storey side extension and detached garage to side/rear at 30 Hillcrest Drive, for Mr K Munro-Brown.
GREAT SUTTON: Single storey side extension at 11 Glendyke Road, for Miss J M Freeman; rear conservatory extension at 10 Hillsdown Way, for Mr Dobson.
WILLASTON: First floor side extension at Crowthorn, Overdale Road, for Mr and Mrs J Thompson.
BURTON: Single storey rear extension (Listed Building Consent) at Church Farm Cottage, for Mr and Mrs M Brookes; single storey rear extension at Church Farm Cottage, for Mr and Mrs M Brookes.
NESTON: Single storey side and rear extension at 4 Arden Drive, Little Neston, for Mr and Mrs Ogden.