FORDINGBRIDGE councillors fear proposed reforms for the planning system could “take away control” from local authorities.

The matter was briefly discussed during a meeting of Fordingbridge Town Council last week.

The meeting heard there are two consultations, one regarding the current planning system in the short term and another regarding fundamental reform to the planning system.

Councillor Malcolm Adams said the town council should take part in the consultations, adding: “There are a few good points but whether it is a step too far is debatable.

“It almost takes, from what I can see, out of our hands entirely.

Cllr Adams added: “There’s a bit of logic in some of it. Overall I think it is probably bad for the bad.”

The plans to make reforms to the system have been unveiled by the government who say it would speed up and modernise the planning system.

The move would mean homes will be built “quicker” by ensuring local housing plans are developed and agreed in 30 months – down from the current seven years.

Cllr Lewendon said: “If you are declared an area for development that is it. In a development zone you lose all control.”

Town Council chairman Edward Hale said: “It is one of those things that has come from central government really.”

Cllr Lewendon added: “It is like the idea of a unitary local government. It is taking out an area of control. I think it will take all control from us and the NFDC.”

“It means you can’t really have a long term plan because there isn’t anything long term about it,” said Cllr Adams.

New Forest District councillor Annie Bellows said this had come before the cabinet and been “very well discussed”.

She added: “We are very concerned about it. As you say it is taking away a lot of control. This is something we are fighting for our area all the time. If that was to be passed obviously that is going to affect us greatly. We have put something together. It would be good if you put something together as well.”

A proposed response will be considered at the town council’s finance and policy meeting later this month.