By Kimberley Moyo
Lambeth council has agreed to limit the number of planning notification letters sent out to residents affected by development sites in a bid to save money.
But Green Party member councillor Scott Ainslie warned that reliance on online information could exclude local people who are not “internet savvy”.
He expressed concern that the push to transfer neighbour notifications and information online could lead to community exclusion.
The majority of council members welcomed the proposals and approved the recommendations on changing the statement of community involvement (SCI) procedures.
Under the recommendations, residents will no longer be able to see physical copies of planning applications at Lambeth’s libraries and the council will stop placing public notices in local papers for planning policy consultations.
Instead there will be more information on planning processes in the initial notification letters, and any information on planning applications will now be available to view on library computers free of charge.
Cllr Ainslie said: “more needs to be done to inform residents” and said that maintaining the notifications and leaflets in the libraries was a better alternative.
But Cllr Jack Hopkins argued that the money could be used better elsewhere to protect services when the council is driven to make budget savings following cuts imposed by central government. £80,000 per year is spent on posting information onplanning applications, and an additional £48,000 is spent on stationery.
Cllr Hopkins, backed by the majority of the council, said that the money currently spent on notifications by the council “is not sustainable” and stressed that this money could be redirected elsewhere.