MAJOR changes to the planning system, which would see homes ‘automatically’ approved have been revealed by the government.

Under draft laws, developers would be granted “automatic” permission to build homes and schools on “growth” sites.

As well as defining certain ‘growth’ areas, plans in ‘renewal’ areas would receive permission ‘in principle’ which the government says will speed-up building.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and green belt land would be protected from development, the government said.

Cllr David Harrison, portfolio holder for planning at Malvern Hills District Council, said he was concerned by some of the reforms reducing the number of affordable homes that would be built.

“The bit that worries me is that they are talking about doing away with affordable housing for developments of less than 40 or 50 houses,” he said.

“That will mean that if you have 50 houses, at present you have to provide 40 per cent affordable. If that limit goes then the number of affordable houses will be depreciated and that is defeating the Government’s objective to build more affordable housing. It’s silly.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the government was “cutting red tape but no standard” and said claims the reforms would lead to slums were “nonsense.” He called the planning system “outdated and cumbersome” and its complexity had been a barrier to building homes.

Cllr Harrison said problems lay in developers gaining planning permission and then not doing anything.

“There’s a site just outside Upton for 130 plus houses and it was granted planning permission three years ago and nothing has happened since,” he said. “There are 50 affordable houses there that have not been provided and there is nothing we can do. The developer can just sit on it."