The call for a “residents first” planning approach by new council leader Arooj Shah has been called “deeply ironic” by local Liberal Democrat councillor Sam Al-Hamdani.
In recent years the Labour Council has changed the rules around being able to challenge planning applications, making it increasingly difficult for them to be heard in public.
With just one resident allowed three minutes to speak, it has left residents feeling more and more excluded from the planning process, especially on contentious applications, such as the recent application from 256 houses at Knowls Lane in Lees and Springhead.
Councillor Al-Hamdani said: “I would love for there to be a ‘residents first’ planning approach in Oldham. That would mean changing the system to better engage with residents, and to make sure their voices are heard.
“Time and again, I have heard from residents responding to the Knowls Lane application that they just want a fair, transparent decision. They certainly don’t feel that we have a ‘residents first’ planning approach.”
With constant pressure on Councils to meet national targets for housebuilding, and less funding for brownfield developments, people increasingly feel that they are locked out of a planning system which ignores their interests.
“It’s not good enough to call for a ‘residents first’ planning approach only when it suits the Labour councillors. People must have a forum to be part of the planning process all the time.”
“The recent proposals to change the planning process by the Conservative Government will strip the public of its voice even further.
“When it comes to giving people the chance to speak, Labour and the Conservatives are both the same. We need a planning system which builds in the public voice, and makes fair, transparent decisions with the public, in full view.”