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Norfolk County Council warning over planning reform proposals

Norfolk County Council chiefs have called for greater clarity from the Government over its proposals to reform the planning system.

Officials have warned that the plans risk undermining, or even ending, the ability of local authorities to secure contributions towards infrastructure improvements to serve new housing developments.

Ministers say their recent White Paper, which is the subject of an ongoing public consultation, would make the planning process simpler.

Building Work in Progress on the New Greenpark Academy at North Lynn
Building Work in Progress on the New Greenpark Academy at North Lynn

But critics say they fear the views of local people would not be taken into account and there is insufficient consideration of the need for social housing. Some opponents have even suggested the plans would “destroy” the system.

Members of the county council’s ruling cabinet are set to consider their response to the White Paper at a meeting on Monday.

But, although they say there is “merit” to some elements of the proposals, a report compiled by officials ahead of the meeting has called for local powers to be maintained as well.

The document claims the county council has generated more than £250 million for infrastructure since 2001.

It added: “Given the role of the County Council as a key strategic infrastructure provider in respect of transport and education, it is essential that any legislation covering infrastructure matters ensures that County Councils have access to any new funding regimes introduced.”

The document also called for clarity on the use of legal agreements for the securing of non-financial contributions, such as land for community use, as well as the implications for waste and mineral sites.

It said: “Specific regard needs to be had to the fact effective mineral planning requires authorities to work together to ensure the strategic delivery of minerals on a scale that exceeds individual authority boundaries.”

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