I’VE tried hard to come to the new White Paper, 'Planning for the Future', with an open mind.

After all, our current planning system is undoubtedly due for reform.

New homes are not being built fast enough to meet need and the existing National Planning and Policy Framework allows developers to do no more than comply with minimum building regulations, which are light years from zero carbon.

A few of the proposed changes are welcome; New homes built after 2025 to produce 75-80% less carbon emissions and a move towards a digital planning system will help to streamline the planning process.

But there are many more causes for concern.

The reforms which are designed to deliver 300,000 homes a year feel like a bulldozer ploughing through local control and accountability.

Land will be divided into three zones destined for growth, renewal or protection.

Once allocated there is no going back and the pressure will be on to Build, Build, Build with an accelerated process that pays less attention to environmental impact assessments.

Plans to use new algorithms to decide housing need will increase councils’ targets: for Somerset West and Taunton the new figure will be around 24,000 homes, double the rate of existing building over the next 20 years.

Developers will have more power not less.

They will no longer be required to deliver a proportion of social housing. Instead, they will pay an “infrastructure levy” on completion (which sometimes never happens), against which councils will borrow money to fund infrastructure.

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Both the housing charity Shelter and The Local Government Association have expressed concern about the impact on delivery of affordable housing. The Town and Country Planning Association, the countryside charity CPRE, the Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Association of British Archaeologists have objected to the proposals.

The irony here is that the planning process is not the cause of the delay in delivering new homes.

According to the LGA, permission has been granted for one million homes nationally which have yet to be built.

Developers stagger the delivery in order to maintain house prices.

The one glimmer of hope is that a number of Conservative MPs have expressed their dismay at the new proposals and are reluctant to support it.

I hope very much our own MP, Rebecca Pow, will join them in giving voice to common sense.

If you haven’t already, please write to her to express your concern and/or respond to the Government consultation document.

Lib Dem Somerset West & Taunton councillor for Kingston, Staplegrove and Norton