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Tories promise planning overhaul

The Conservative Party will reform the “broken” English planning system if elected, it was announced yesterday.
The planning green paper, entitled Open Dest Planning, aims to bring together neighbourhoods to encourage local sustainable development and create new homes and jobs.

Initiatives include:

  • Allowing local authorities to create “bottom up” local plans, so that local residents can shape and protect the character of their neighbourhoods

  • Giving councils and communities financial incentives to encourage them to build new homes

  • Scrapping the Infrastructure Planning Commission, but still keeping a fast track process to avoid planning inquiries taking years

    The problem with the current system is that it is, according to Bob Neill, Shadow Local Government & Planning Minister: “top down, bureaucratic and expensive.”

    “The number of houses built in 2009 is the lowest since 1946 – and is forecast to fall even further, to levels not seen since 1923 yet opposition to development is on the rise,” he says. “This is because communities feel that development is being imposed upon them from unelected and unaccountable planning quangos leaving communities disenfranchised from the very start of the process.

    Conservative Party leader David Cameron who launched the paper said: “Our local plans represent one of the biggest shifts in power for decades. Suddenly, you can see how a system that was controlled by a few can be run by the many. You can see how it’s possible to get neighbourhoods to come together to solve problems together.”

  • About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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