Planning gets the consultation treatment

Another day and another invite from the Coalition on how it will engage with local communities. This time it’s an overhaul of the planning regime (a change long needed) and how the government is putting the decision-making back to local authorities and communities.

Speaking at the National Planning Forum, planning minister Bob Neill set out the vision for councils and local people to work with developers and planners to deliver new building in their area.

Neill said: “We’re abolishing this ridiculous system where Whitehall tells communities what they must build, and then dictates when and where they have to build it. Communities will be able to come together and take responsibility for solving their own local challenges in a way that make sense for them. And in return, they will be offered powerful incentives that ensure they see the benefits of the development they welcome.”

He is calling on engaging with communities to work with him to change the rules, giving them power and influence in local decision-making. The future policy, which will be streamlined and simplified, will see planners expertly working with communities and translating their visions. He’s calling on communities to help develop neighbourhood proposals, rather than be consulted on options that have already been prepared.

A sensible approach as there’s already too much cynicism surrounding planning and development at local level. People during consultations often feel that the decisions have already been made and the organisation running it is just going through the motions. If this happens then it will feel like more decisions can be made at the local level. But will people have the time or inclination to get involved?

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