Minister wants ‘yes’from community champs

A RADICAL overhaul of planning policy cutting out thousands of unnecessary central instructions with the promise of putting communities at the heart of decision making is set to move forward.

A keystone to the Coalition Government’s Big Society thinking, the Localism Bill will get its Second Reading in the House of Commons next Monday.

Ministers believe that in recent years, the planning system has become overloaded with central guidance and statements, with vast amounts of paperwork making it too cumbersome for councils, developers and local people to use effectively.

Too much unwanted detail has resulted in a system full of contradictions and has acted as a brake on growth, hindering rather than helping local communities to shape development in their neighbourhoods, they claim.

The Bill aims to end the “centralist approach” to planning with an ambitious plan designed to consolidate dozens of existing policy statements, circulars and guidance documents into a single national planning policy framework.

This new framework will:

l Hand power back to local communities to decide what is right for them - instead of imposing excessive rigid rules from the centre

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l Be more user-friendly and accessible, so that it is easier for members of the public to have a meaningful say in planning decisions.

l Ensure planning is used as a mechanism for delivering Government objectives only where it is “relevant, proportionate and effective to do so”

l And establish a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Planning professionals, local authorities, community groups and members of the public will have an opportunity to shape the new framework.

The background is there are over 1,000 pages of policy and guidance which Ministers condemn as making the planning system “unclear and burdensome.”