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Counties demand greater role in creating local housing strategies

County councils have today called on the government to hand them a greater role in planning and development in order to tackle ‘nimbyism’ in local areas.

The County Councils Network (CCN) said that residents, businesses and MPs often block plans for new housing developments as they are not supported with the necessary funding, infrastructure and public services to be successful.

This is something the CCN describes as a “not in my back yard” (NIMBY) approach to new developments that is slowing down growth in county areas.

And now, the organisation has stated that counties need to be given a greater role in the planning system in order to streamline the fragmented system that can push district councils to oversee housing while counties oversee infrastructure.

The CCN argued that bringing both authorities together in strategic planning arrangements would allow counties and districts to plan for homes over a whole county, a departure from the current system which restricts planning to pockets of areas only covering on average 100,000 people.

Planning over larger geographies will also allow councils to pinpoint the most appropriate areas for development, rather than proposing to cram homes into small pockets or build without sufficient infrastructure already in place.

“The government’s commitment to reform planning in a recognition that the system isn’t working is welcomed,” said Cllr Philip Atkins, vice-chairman of the CCN. “However, we must be bold: for years changes to the planning system have tinkered around the edges.

“Our new publication sets out how counties should be empowered to take an active role in planning, working with district partners across a larger geographical area.”

Cllr Atkins also stated that strategic planning would allay the considerable fears felt in communities over housebuilding by targeting developments in the most appropriate areas, with joined-up plans and financing for these homes allowing the necessary infrastructure to be created so communities do not feel the extra burden on public services.

“The government must also recognise that long-term underfunding of county areas has led to increased pressures on public services in our communities, creating further consternation when a major development is proposed,” he continued.

“The planned review of local government funding must generate a fairer solution for rural areas.”

Today’s call also comes after the CCN asked for a ‘new deal’ and further devolution of powers to England’s counties last week.

Top Image: Rui Vieira

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