CAMPAIGNERS say proposals to radically shake-up planning rules could mean that threatened greenfield sites are spared from development in the future.

The Government has announced a consultation on the proposals which could mean moving to a zoning system with three new categories of land.

Land designated “for renewal” such as brownfield sites will receive a “permission in principle” approach from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government while land designated for growth will see homes, hospitals and schools automatically allowed while areas of outstanding natural beauty and the Green Belt will come under the protection category.

Local Plans to allocate sites will be produced every 30 months but planning applications may no longer be consulted upon with notices on lampposts informing local people done away with for example.

The Tong and Fulneck Valley Association has been fighting to preserve the area between Bradford and Leeds which is in the Green Belt but was allocated for housing by Bradford Council.

Julia McGoldrick, chair of the association, said: “The Government continues to press home the message that Green Belt needs to be protected.

“The policy is brownfield first and I hope Bradford Council take heed of this.”

She said the Council already approved 90% of applications so she did not see how the new rules would get more building done but she welcomed the emphasis on using “derelict” sites in the inner city.

She said the Local Plan should be torn up anyway because of the effects of Brexit, the Paris Climate Agreement and now coronavirus.

“There is no influx of migration and [the Council’s] projected housing statistics were based on European migration.

“The world has changed incredibly in the last six months, we have been telling them they should do this already.”

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “My main priority is to stop Bradford Council from constantly concreting over the Green Belt in my constituency.

“If these proposals make it harder for them to do that and make sure more brownfield sites in Bradford are developed then it would be a good thing. But obviously the devil is in the detail and I will study the proposals carefully.”

Imran Hussain (Lab, Bradford East) said: “We need to build more sustainable, affordable and social housing, but these planned changes will only create a Developer’s Charter that will lead to poor quality housing and to developers being able to ignore their obligations to fund the improvement of important local community infrastructure.

“These changes will also strip back the opportunities for oversight and see residents side-lined in decision making, denying them important chances to give their views on unwanted and ill-thought out developments being built in their communities.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the Council's Executive Member 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."

The Housing Secretary defended his sweeping reforms to the planning system against criticism that the move to speed up building will create slums and ignore local concerns.

Robert Jenrick dismissed allegations the draft laws for England unveiled on Thursday could create a new generation of low quality homes as “complete nonsense”.

And he insisted local people will be able to make “a meaningful contribution”, despite confirming there is nothing that can be done to halt disliked projects once an area is designated for growth.

Mr Jenrick said the major overhaul of planning policy would protect green spaces while making it easier to build on brownfield sites despite Labour branding it a “developers’ charter”.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) said there was “every chance they could also lead to the creation of the next generation of slum housing”.

Mr Jenrick insisted “design and quality” is central to the Government plans and, when asked about Riba’s criticisms, he told Sky News: “That I’m afraid is complete nonsense.

“I saw those comments and they were put out before we’d even published the document.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior aide Dominic Cummings have both advocated reform to the system and the proposals in the Planning for the Future White Paper set out the Government’s vision.

The reforms have caused unease within Tory ranks, with fears that local concerns will be ignored in order to build more quickly.

The Local Government Association’s Conservative chairman James Jamieson said: “Any loss of local control over developments would be a concern.”

Hugh Ellis, a director at the Town and Country Planning Association, said the greatest factor in building decent, socially-rented homes is about investment, not planning, and warned it is “really troubling” that “this is not a democratisation of planning”.

Currently, he said, critics of a building project “get two bites of the cherry, they can have an involvement in the plan, they can comment on planning applications”.

“Half that process is going to effectively disappear,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The White Paper proposes that all new streets should be tree-lined and the MHCLG also says “all new homes to be carbon neutral by 2050, with no new homes delivered under the new system needed to be retrofitted”.

Councils will also be forced to lay out a “local plan” of where new homes can be built, as only 50% have such schemes in place.

The reforms aim to reduce the number of planning cases that get overturned at appeal by creating a “clearer, rules-based system”.

A new national levy would replace the current system of developer contributions and “beautiful buildings” will be fast-tracked through the planning system.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “This is a developers’ charter frankly taking councils and communities out of it.

“And on affordable housing, which is the critical issue, it says nothing. In fact it removes the initiatives that were there for affordable housing.”