Proposals to overhaul the planning system by the government have been branded a “dog’s breakfast” by Hertfordshire’s county councillors.

The government’s white paper – planning for the future – has been heralded as a “once in a generation” reform, which will “sweep away an outdated planning system to boost building”.

But on Thursday (October 8) – at a meeting of the county council’s growth, infrastructure, planning and the economy cabinet panel – councillors from across the political divide referred to it as a “dog’s breakfast”.

Cllr Derrick Ashley, Conservative, Hitchin South, said there were a number of things to welcome in the white paper but that they had already received a fair number of “jaundiced observations” from various planning authorities – and that it was “what a number of us regard as a dog’s breakfast”.

Conservative for Hatfield Rural Cllr Stephen Boulton – who is also executive member for environment and planning at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council – said there was “much wrong” with the white paper, and that it could fail to balance the need of the Green Belt.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Steve Jarvis, Royston West and Rural, welcomed some parts that removed areas of complexity – but he said others were “poorly thought through” and wondered if the person who had written it had any practical knowledge of the planning process at all. His fellow Lib Dem Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Watford, also branded the white paper a “dog’s breakfast”.

And said the proposals failed to address issues such as “land-banking” and was concerned planning permission could lack democratic accountability.

A draft response from the county council acknowledged that the planning system “needs fundamental reform” and the potential offered by the white paper.

Among the wide-ranging points raised in the 18-page response is the “failure” of the paper to consult on options for alternative national, regional and sub-regional strategic planning,

It also questioned how the Infrastructure Levy would work, says sustainable building and climate change is a “missed opportunity” and references the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on future housing preferences and plans, when people wish to move to rural areas.

For more on the consultation see here