A councillor has warned the Government's proposed planning overhaul may lead to "sub-standard housing" in Harlow.

Cllr Danny Purton, Harlow's portfolio holder for environment is wary of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s proposed overhaul of a system that has been in place since just after the Second World War.

The Mark Hall councillor said: “We have long been concerned at the use of permitted development to increase housing numbers. In Harlow, this has often led to sub-standard housing in inappropriate areas. We believe that housing should be developed through the planning system to ensure high standards, which is why we have used Article 4 powers in order to ensure this occurs."

Part of the proposed new process will involve quicker development on land which has been designated “for renewal”, with a “permission in principle” approach that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said will balance the need for proper checks with a speedier way of working.

The other two categories will see land designated for growth where new homes, hospitals and schools will be allowed automatically to empower development, while areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will come under the protection category.

The new process will be done through democratic local agreement, be clearer and cut out red tape, the Government said.

Cllr Purton said: “We are in the final stages of completing our new Local Development Plan, which we hope to adopt in the autumn. This document sets out Harlow’s ambitious plans for growth as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. The new Local Plan already sets out areas identified for housing growth which will give developers some certainty over the next decade and, as such, we have been able to effectively plan the future of the town.

“Some flexibility in the planning system is to be welcomed though, particularly at a time where we need to re-start the economy. In recent weeks the government has made a number of announcements and launched consultations on the future of the planning system.

“We are currently reviewing this documentation and will be consulting with councillors before providing any responses to the various policy statements.”

Mr Jenrick said: “For too long home ownership has remained out of reach for too many, as a complex and outdated planning system has failed to keep up with the needs of our country.

“I am completely overhauling the system so we can build more good quality, attractive and affordable homes faster – and more young families can finally have the key to their own home.

“We will build environmentally-friendly homes that will not need to be expensively retrofitted in the future, homes with green spaces and new parks at close hand, where tree-lined streets are provided for in law, where neighbours are not strangers.”

The Government said the new approach will work through an interactive and accessible map-based online system “placing planning at the fingertips”.

The changes come after the Prime Minister promised last month to “build, build, build” his way out of the coronavirus crisis.

Boris Johnson said he would slash “newt-counting” red tape in the planning system to speed up delivery of infrastructure projects and homes.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said it is ready to work with the Government to ensure any reforms bring improvement and added it is vital the right protections are in place through a locally-led planning system.

LGA chairman James Jamieson said: “Any suggestion that planning is a barrier to housebuilding is a myth. Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils while more than a million homes given planning permission in the last decade have not yet been built.

“The planning system needs to be able to ensure developments are of a high standard, are built in the right places, include affordable homes and are supported by infrastructure that provides enough schools, promotes greener and more active travel, and tackles climate change.”