A PLANNING chief fears Government plans for sweeping changes “pander to developers” and could wreck the high street.

Brighton and Hove City Council planning boss Councillor Leo Littman criticised the Government’s “Planning For The Future” document which proposes to “streamline” the planning system.

Chief among his concerns is a proposal to remove a requirement to build “affordable” homes for any developer creating a scheme of up to 50 houses.

The Green councillor also warned plans to allow landlords to change the use of their buildings without permission from councils could damage retail centres.

“Town planning, which has prevented many town centres from disappearing over the last few decades, will now no longer be able to do so,” Cllr Littman said.

“Rather than letting local planning authorities decide whether to let a shop become a café, for example, such changes will no longer need permission.

“Brighton and Hove is fortunate in that we have numerous thriving retail centres.

“Previously, town planners were able to ensure that things remained that way.

“After this law change, any temporary downturn in retail performance could now threaten the survival of our unique shopping areas, with the financial might of national and international chains forcing local independent traders out of parts of the city they’ve been operating in for years.”

Cllr Littman also criticised plans to force all councils to designate land as either “growth, renewal or protection” land.

The Government claims this will speed up the planning process as proposals on “growth” land will be automatically approved.

But the city council planning chief said this move will hand more powers to developers.

“Evidence shows councils are approving nine out of every ten planning applications,” Cllr Littman said.

“Now we face a change that could take away the limited powers we already have to serve communities.

“The Government is driving a cart and horses through planning determinations, leaving residents and our local areas at the mercy of the profit motive.”

The Government plans have now gone out to public consultation, which ends on October 26. A bill will then be submitted to Parliament outlining the planned changes.