South Gloucestershire Lib Dems are set to oppose proposals by the ruling Conservative Group to place greater limits on local residents’ input into the planning process – including scrapping the right for residents to attend site inspections by the planning committee.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Claire Young said:
“My party have always believed that public decisions should be made in as open and transparent a way as possible, which is why we cannot support these proposals. Excluding residents from site inspections risks reducing public confidence in the fairness of the planning process.
“Coming on the heels of the Conservatives’ decision to push ahead with major developments at Coalpit Heath, Charfield, Buckover, Iron Acton and Thornbury in the face of public protest, this latest move will just add to the perception that the odds are being stacked against residents and in favour of powerful developers.”
Lib Dem Deputy Group Leader, Cllr Maggie Tyrrell said:
“While we welcome the fact that the administration have u-turned on some of their previous proposals, after outcry from local residents and opposition councillors, it’s clear that these changes still make the planning process less accessible for residents. Regular planning meetings in Thornbury are to be scrapped, meaning that it will be more difficult for residents from the west of South Gloucestershire to participate in the process, particularly those residents who rely on public transport.
“The Tories propose that developers could run public engagement sessions to make up for the loss of local council-run planning meetings. This just goes to show how enamoured the Tories are with rich developers, and how little they understand about real local democracy.
“The administration’s official line that these changes will ‘encourage engagement’ and make the system ‘more transparent’ suggests that they have either completely lost touch with reality or that they take local residents for fools.”