“A one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work” — that’s the message from a top councillor after the council shared its concerns on the government’s ‘radical’ planning overhaul. 

Unveiled earlier this year, the proposed reform of England’s planning system would see a focus on three new pillars —planning for development, planning for beautiful and sustainable places, and planning for infrastructure and connected places. 

The overhaul reportedly includes a new method for calculating local housing need, a move which has already proven controversial as it could land Bracknell Forest with a requirement to build 805 homes every single year, according to planning experts Lichfields. 

READ MORE: Hundreds more homes could be built under new govt reforms

A number of top local politicians had their say on the proposals last month and now the council has revealed its position on the government’s white paper. 

A report from Bracknell Forest Council read: “There are some proposed measures that are considered to be beneficial in terms of streamlining planning and it would also be helpful if relevant planning legislation could be updated and consolidated as much as possible. 

“However, the planning system is very important and the outcomes it delivers have long-lasting effects on the environment and on people’s quality of life. 

“It is important therefore that changes should be based on sound evidence and a balance of views.”

The council’s top team met to discuss the white paper at a meeting of the executive on Tuesday, October 20. 

READ MORE: Next consultation on Bracknell local plan in the new year

Key concerns raised by councillors included worries about the way housing need would be calculated for boroughs and districts across the country. 

Councillor John Harrison said: “There’s no doubt the planning system does need reform. What it doesn’t need is completely scrapping and replacing with a free for all. 

“We’ve got concerns about some sort of national formula used to determine the number of houses built in a particular area. We’ve seen what a mess the government can make with national formulas with the exam results awarded this year. 

“Let’s not go down that route because it will lead to all sorts of anomalous results across the country.

“Not everywhere in Britain is the same and imposing a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work.”

Another worry raised was around a lack of democracy in the new planning reforms, as big developments could gain permission quicker if certain standards are met. 

Councillor Dale Birch said: “I don’t think anybody believes the current system is perfect and the need for a change is there but I for one will not support this if it impacts on council decision making and local democracy.”

Environment chief Cllr Dororthy Hayes voiced her concerns on the gulf between what developers want and what residents want for their areas. 

She said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the eye of the developer, this isn’t what the general public want. 

READ MORE: Campaigners urge council to drop plans for 4,000 homes in countryside

“At the end of the day, we are there for our residents and the commitment which is ‘not Bracknell, but Bracknell Forest’. 

“We are a beautiful area and we should be looking at that when it comes to contributing to what we think we want for our residents.”

A consultation on the government’s changes to the planning system closed on Thursday, October 1.