Planning Reform

The Government is pursuing a wide range of planning reforms which they argue will give local communities more say in local decision making. The Localism Act was passed in 2011 and the National Planning Policy Framework introduced in 2012. The Growth and Infrastructure Bill is now progressing through Parliament which contains further radical reforms and the Government is also reviewing planning guidance notes through the Taylor Review.

The Localism Act is a wide ranging act but it includes a number of important provisions, such as setting up Neighbourhood Plans. You can read our full national briefing here.

Although the new elements of the Localism Act have been the subject of much debate it is important to stress that the Local Plan remains central to all planning decisions and across the region we are working to influence the many emerging local plans which will determine housing levels, sites for industrial and retail development, the location of waste and minerals activity, as well as key transport schemes.

The Act also included provision to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies. This was delayed due to the requirement for a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the impacts of abolition but abolition was confirmed in March 2013. You can read our response to the two SEAs for the West Midlands here and here. We did not oppose the removal of RSSs which we felt had become dominated by the imposition of high housing allocations but we are concerned that the system that replaces them will lose RSS policies we supported, such as the prioritisation of urban regeneration while failing to provide a better approach to housing provision.

The new National Planning Policy Framework was the subject of a lengthy consultation to which CPRE has responded at all levels. It has slimmed down the current planning guidance notes and although the final version improved on the original draft, we remain concerned that it does not adequately protect the countryside and is too biased towards economic interests. It is perhaps the most important of all the reforms because it underpins all planning and the development of local plans.

We are particularly concerned that provisions in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill could take more planning powers away from local elected politicians. We are also concerned that the Taylor Review does not reduce the quality as well as the quantity of planning advice.

You can find more information about how you can become involved in planning at a local level at link

2 April 2013