Reading East MP Matt Rodda talks all about planning changes. He writes;

Reading and Woodley have picturesque parks and open spaces and many interesting and attractive buildings. I am proud of our local heritage and I want to protect it and see is used to guide future development.

However, I am concerned by several changes to the planning system proposed by Government which could put our local environment at risk, either at street level, or by building on green spaces.

In Parliament, I voted against a Government proposal to allow developers to add two stories to a block of flats without planning permission. I also opposed a similar plan to allow two-storey extensions without planning permission. Sadly both these measures were passed, despite considerable opposition and paves the way for local residents to lose their voice in how their communities look.

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Extensions can be quite controversial for neighbours and I believe it is important for local people to have a say and for applications to be discussed by council planning committees. This isn’t about opposing all development but making sure that developments are sympathetic to local areas and involve those communities which will be most affected. Unfortunately, changes to the local environment are now likely to be seen by residents, whether they live in areas with a large number of flats, such as Reading town centre, or in a terraced street or suburb.

To make matters worse, these two changes are the foretaste of other changes to the planning system, which could have a serious effect on our community.

The first of these is that the Government wants to change the way it calculates where houses should be built and it is also considering other changes to the planning system which will make it easier for developers to get their way.

Reducing the allocation of housing across the UK to nothing more than a Government algorithm undermines the very fabric of local control and fails to recognise that while parts of the UK want to protect their greenbelt, others are crying out for their former industrial sites to be redeveloped.

There is plenty of brownfield land available in many parts of the country which could be redeveloped, meeting the Government's national housebuilding target while promoting regeneration in some of the most deprived UK areas.

Under the Government’s plan, Reading would have to build 700 homes a year, Wokingham Borough to find space for 1,600 homes a year, and West Berkshire upping numbers by 700 a year.

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I support sustainable house building. I want everyone in Reading to be able to afford to live in the home of their choice and for children to be able to live near their parents but that has to be done in conjunction with local communities and not by central government decree.

Reading Council has been working hard to develop a local plan which would allow local councillors to have a say over the number and type of housing we build in our Borough.

To add insult to injury, the Government’s long term plan is to de-regulate the planning system, making it easier for developers to build what they like. Again, no local control, just a series of big developers whose motivation will be profits not what a community needs but how much profit they can make.

No system is perfect, however the current planning system has helped reduce unsuitable development, protect green spaces, and encouraged development in keeping with existing towns and villages. This is a proud legacy of the Atlee Government’s 1948 Town and Country Planning Act.

As Government moves forward with their plans, they risk taking away control from local people and giving a free pass to developers to build whatever they want in our towns, villages and on our green spaces in between. If you have concerns about the changes email