A BRADFORD Councillor has criticised the Government’s decision to relax planning rules for new housing, saying it is "solving a problem that doesn't exist."

The changes, which the Government says will help speed up developments, will grant automatic permission for housing to be built on land that has been designated “for renewal.”

Green Belt and protected land would not be included, but it would effectively mean developers could bypass the local planning process when looking to build new housing estates.

Making the announcement this weekend, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Land designated for growth will empower development - new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically."

He claimed the planning system currently meant housing schemes could take years to pass through the system.

Council says it has ‘no control’ over quality of flats created through permitted development

Other changes he has proposed include introducing new design codes, encouraging more eco homes and a move away from Councils having to place planning notices on lampposts near proposed development sites.

The announcment was met with criticism in some quarters.

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said: "The government’s intended reforms sound like a gross oversimplification of the planning system.

"First and foremost, our planning process must respond to the needs of communities, both in terms of providing much-needed affordable homes and other vital infrastructure, and green spaces for our health

and wellbeing.

‘The planning process as it stands may not be perfect but instead of deregulating planning, the government must invest in planning. Quality development needs a quality planning system with community participation at its heart."

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We understand that the Government wants to accelerate growth, so do we.

"But relaxing planning applications so that local people have less say is solving a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s not planning laws and consultation that slows down development, it’s land assembly and financing. If Government fund the viability gap on brownfield developments they will find that many development opportunities will be unlocked on unused brownfield land all across the district.

"There are many sites with planning permission that remain undeveloped just because they are financially unviable to build on.”