ILKLEY councillors and representatives from local groups held a virtual meeting with their MP to discuss proposed major changes to the planning system.

MP Robbie Moore met with town and district councillors as well as members of the Ilkley Neighbourhood Development Plan Working Group, including representatives from Ilkley Civic Society and Climate Action Ilkley.

The ‘Planning for the Future White Paper’ and ‘Changes to the Current Planning System’ have been the subject of recent online public consultations and are said to represent the biggest shake up to the planning system for many years.

Ilkley town councillor Ros Brown who convened and chaired the meeting, and chairs the Ilkley Neighbourhood Development Plan Working Group, said “It’s been very clear to us when preparing the Neighbourhood Plan how little power we have to secure the things that really matter to many in our town. Uncertainty over future housing numbers for Ilkley and the potential loss of Green Belt along with the perennial challenge of providing properly affordable, accessible and zero carbon housing are the most pressing examples of this.”

Ilkley Town Council Planning Committee has submitted responses to both public consultations reflecting observations, thoughts and concerns from their involvement with local planning matters.

Chair of Ilkley Town Council Planning Committee Cllr Jennifer Souter said “I found the meeting very interesting and informative. Robbie clarified several points and re-assured me that he will make every effort to safeguard the interests of the whole of Ilkley”.

The questions raised covered more than twenty different topics from proposals in the White Paper. Concerns were raised about threats to local Green Belt, the urgent need for zero carbon housing standards to support Ilkley becoming carbon neutral by 2030 as well as how to secure realistically affordable housing in a town with such high land values. Questions were also asked about proposals in the White Paper to make the whole planning system web-based and the risk of digital exclusion for some residents.

Cllr Brown thanked Mr Moore and all 14 people who attended the meeting, which she described as “helpful and informative”. She said “It’s widely acknowledged there are many problems with our current planning system that need addressing. I wanted to ensure we began a meaningful conversation with Robbie about the proposals in the Planning White Paper so he understands our concerns and we have some chance of influencing these proposals in parliament for the good of our town. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with Robbie on these matters.’

The White Paper consultation ends on October 29.