PROPOSED government planning reforms have been described as an “assault on democracy” by a leading Leeds City Council decision-maker.

Coun Lisa Mulherin (Lab), the authority’s executive member for transport and planning, claimed the government’s proposed new “planning for the future” bill would damage local decision-making and could even exacerbate climate change.

Changes to the way planning permission is given to developers were announced by communities secretary Robert Jenrick last month, and could see new homes and hospitals granted ‘automatic’ permission to be built.

The bill – which is currently in the early “white paper” stage – could also lead to certain cases in which local authorities would not be able to block developments that are in designated “growth” zones.

Coun Mulherin is set to put a motion to fellow councillors next week, calling on fellow members to pressure the government to scrap the plans and to work more closely with local authorities in future.

The motion reads: “This council considers the proposals in the government white paper “Planning for the Future” to be an assault on local democracy, creating a licence for ill-considered development without local community input.

“The government proposals would undermine local policies including those to tackle the Climate Emergency and fail to tackle the housing delivery issue the government says they are intended to address.

“We call on the government to scrap their ill-thought-out plans and work with local councils and the Local Government Association to tackle the real issues with delivering the homes our communities need.”

It follows claims from Coun Mulherin earlier this month that the plans were the “opposite of devolution”, and an example of the government taking more powers away from councils.

“We are finally being given new powers,” she told a council meeting on September 1. “Nobody will say no to having more local say in local matters.

“However, when this government gives with one hand it takes away with the other. In its current white paper, the government claims it wants to reduce red tape to speed up the planning process.

“(This is) a claim built entirely on the myth that the planning process is being held up by local councils, and not by landowners  and developers sitting on sites with planning permission but not starting work on them.”

Councillors will vote on whether to support the motion at a full Leeds City Council meeting on Wednesday, September 16.