LOCAL campaigners and MPs have criticised plans to end the requirement for public notices on planning applications.

As part of its Planning for the Future bill, which is set to be the biggest shake-up of the UK planning system in more than 70 years, the Government is aiming to make the planning system more democratic and transparent.

While we at the Telegraph & Argus fully support improvements to the planning system, there is one section of the Bill which does the exact opposite; removing the statutory requirement for local authorities to publish planning notices in local newspapers.

This is vital to allow members of the public, especially those who rely on the local paper to get their news about what is going on in Bradford, to know about planning applications that may affect them; from a nearby development of hundreds of new homes, to a neighbour trying to build an extension which would block their sunlight.

Instead of being published in trusted local newspapers and across their digital channels, planning notices would be cast into the void of misinformation and fake news that is social media or placed in a little-visited part of a council website.

As your local paper, we firmly believe in your right to know and we fight hard for it on your behalf every day of the week.

The important principle in our current system is that you are made aware of the proposed changes before they get the green light.

That way, the pros and cons can be debated openly, and everyone is given the opportunity to have their say.

This commitment to transparency is underpinned by a longstanding obligation on councils to publish planning notices in local newspapers. As well as publishing these notices in this newspaper, we also publish them on our website to ensure that awareness and access to this important information is as wide as possible.

More than 100,000 people read the Telegraph & Argus in print and online every day. That powerful reach is at the disposal of councils when they need to communicate with the public.

We are very open to finding new and innovative ways for councils to communicate with the public, but we firmly believe that the obligation to publish public notices in printed local papers is critical to ensuring that councils and local papers work effectively together in this way.

Removing the obligation to publish in print will damage that collaboration and lead to the notices being hidden from public view.

Local campaigners and politicians echoed these concerns, with Bradford Council saying the publicising of planning applications is “essential”.

Mick Meares, who formerly headed up Greenhill Action Group to fight a development of 400 homes on a patch of land in Sty Lane, Micklethwaite, said the proposals were “highly dangerous and quite scary”.

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain added: “These changes the Government are setting out will reduce the involvement of residents in the decision-making process and erode vital opportunities for oversight and accountability, with fewer opportunities for local people to give their views on unwanted and ill-thought-out developments being built in their communities.”

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said publicising planning notices is crucial for “transparency and accountability”.

She said: “This is a free-for-all charter for developers that removes important safeguards, side-lines local councils and communities, and offers nothing on the affordable housing that is so desperately needed.

“While I agree that the planning system needs to be reformed, taking decision making away from local communities is the opposite of what should be happening.

“Planning notices should be publicised as widely as practical to ensure transparency and accountability.”

A spokesperson for Bradford Council added: “We are currently looking at the government proposals. It is essential that planning applications are well publicised and that local communities are informed and have the chance to comment and have their say.”

If you believe in your right to know, please write to your MP and ask them to make representations to the Government on your behalf, and you can also take part in the Planning for the Future consultation, which closes on October 29, on the Government website.