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Lib Dems reject planning reforms

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The Liberal Democrats have passed an emergency motion against government proposals to relax English planning laws, casting new doubt on the plans by calling on government to withdraw them

The motion, proposed by councillor Chris White, calls on the government to withdraw the plan, reported sister title Construction News. Local government minister Don Foster said the reforms were ‘not a done deal’, and pledged to listen to the views of the party.

An overwhelming anti-government vote throws the policy into doubt, as the Liberal Democrat leadership will now be expected to make an effort to renegotiate the agreements, or risk a backlash from the party membership.

Earlier this month the government announced a number of measures to ease planning requirements, including setting up advisory panels to bypass difficult s106 requirements, a planning holiday for home extensions, and allowing some developers to take applications to a planning inspectorate.

CN found that many industry figures were concerned about the effect the reforms would have on the power of local groups to determine their own planning futures.

Conference also called for a ‘major programme’ of housebuilding, and to boost local control over the process. The vote comes as the second defeat to top Lib Dems at their conference, after members voted down proposals for secret courts.

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