SAM Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East council, has hit out at proposed changes to the planning system.

Cllr Corcoran tweeted saying he didn’t ‘want to see another flood of speculative housing applications on greenfield sites in Cheshire East’.

The proposed changes come in the form of two government white papers, which claim to make the planning process more open, rules-based, and encourage more development.

However, the CEC Labour leader believes that the proposals are actually an attempt to steal power away from locally elected officials: “When you get controversial planning applications through it really does engender significant interest from the public — under the proposals put forward, two things would happen: firstly, a lot of powers would be taken from the council and given to central government.

“Secondly, powers would be taken away from local councillors and given to planning officers. Both of those would result in a big democratic deficit. Residents could make all the fuss they like about a controversial planning application but it would make no difference because they would go through anyway.”

The Sandbach Heath and East representative also believes the plans could reduce the amount of affordable housing being built in Cheshire East, as the Changes to the current planning system white paper proposes lifting the affordable housing threshold to 40 or 50 units per development.

Cllr Corcoran said: “[The proposal] could mean massive avoidance activity in that anybody with an application for 80 houses would suddenly make it two applications of 40 houses so that they didn't have to provide any affordable housing.”

However Cllr Corocan’s Conservative counterpart, Janet Clowes, says it’s too soon to predict ‘what the final version of planning changes might or might not look like’.

The Wybunbury councillor added: “We are in the middle of a consultation process which lasts for 12 weeks and the Conservative group are actually looking through it at the moment to bring forward ideas and opinions about the proposals so that we can feed into the process and make government very aware of any concerns that we have.

“It is far too early to make those kinds of sweeping judgement and [it’s] far too early for a petition when in fact we don’t have a final document.”

Cllr Clowes also told the LDRS that she believed the proposals could bring benefit to the borough: “One of the really strong elements coming out of the proposals is that we must have locally designated design frameworks.

“Not only does that mean you get a real sense of place and you can improve the quality of the place but it allows you to bring in design that will improve health and well-being, that incorporates green space, and also it brings in the kind of design that helps us meet our carbon emissions of the future.”

You can view the proposals on the Government’s website and leave feedback on the ideas.