Local people to be given power from Town Hall and Whitehall
New planning reforms, being labelled as the “building blocks of the Big Society” have just been announced by the CLG.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Planning Minister Greg Clark outlined proposals to decentralise and streamline the planning system, ahead of the publication of the Localism Bill that is due later this week. Below are the headlines from the CLG’s ‘Neighbourhoods wil be the ‘building blocks of the Big Society’:
- Neighbourhood groups to shape where they live: Parish councils and new neighbourhood forums of local people – rather than town hall officials – will lead the way in shaping their community. If local people then vote in favour of new ‘Neighbourhood Plans’ in local referendums, councils will have to adopt them.
- Direct democracy: New powers that allow communities to give planning approval could mean urgent developments can go ahead quickly.
- Local benefits from local development: Incentives will make this work. The New Homes Bonus will financially reward communities and councils that deliver new homes and businesses. The Reforms to the Community Infrastructure Levy will mean the local neighbourhood where development takes place will receive large proportions of the levy.
- Vanguards to lead the way: The Government would like to see about a dozen local areas come forward to act as vanguards that will trial Neighbourhood Plans in their area before the legislation comes into force.
Localism and Decentralisation Bill
The Landscape Institute will be reporting to its members on the contents of the Bill. Its key clauses will be:
- Abolish Regional Spatial Strategies.
- Return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils.
- Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and replace it with an efficient and democratically accountable system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects.
- Create Local Enterprise Partnerships (to replace Regional Development Agencies) – joint local authority-business bodies brought forward by local authorities to promote local economic development.
- Form plans to deliver a genuine and lasting Olympic legacy.
- Create new trusts that would make it simpler for communities to provide homes for local people.
Neighbourhoods Green is a partnership between the LI, Groundwork, Keep Britain Tidy, CABE Space, Natural England, the National Housing Federation and some Registered Social Landlords, with the aim of improving standards in open space within social housing.
For more information on Neighbourhoods Green, visit www.neighbourhoodsgreen.org.uk