Planning applications will no longer be advertised by site notice in every case under new council proposals.
The number of neighbours who receive a letter about developments will also reduce from six to four on either side of a site in measures to save £39,000.
Other changes include redesigning site notices to make them more ‘eye-catching’ as well as greater reliance on online communications to advertise applications.
The changes were agreed but opposition councillors have now called for the proposals to go back to a committee for further scrutiny.
Coun Ian Auckland, Liberal Democrat planning spokesman, said: “When controversial developments are seeking planning approval, it’s absolutely vital communities and residents have the chance to make their voice heard.
“While moving to electronic communication is welcome, the removal of more traditional consultation could risk excluding the elderly and vulnerable from the debate.”
The council said it had to consider budget savings in all departments as its Government funding had been halved.
Coun Leigh Bramall added: “People will still be able to have their say on planning developments and to suggest otherwise is nothing more than scaremongering.
“If we did not do this we would have to find other cuts which could lead to slower responses to planning applications –which no one wants to see.”
The Liberal Democrats said the changes were the latest move putting ‘power in the hands of politicians’ while Labour said the Liberal Democrats supported the cuts nationally and were feigning ‘crocodile tears’.