New opportunities and challenges raised by the Localism Bill were discussed at a lively meeting of the South West branch of the LI
At the well-attended meeting in Exeter on January 19, Charles St George of PPS Consultants outlined the measures contained in the new legislation, which aims to shift control over planning decisions to councils and communities, rather than central government.
The Bill, laid before Parliament in December 2010, contains a package of reforms that will overhaul the planning system and give local neighbourhoods control over housing decisions. Among the main changes are the introduction of pre-application consultation for all major developments; Neighbourhood Development Plans; local referendums; a Community Infrastructure Levy; the right for communities to bid, build and challenge; and councillors’ freedom to campaign. The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is abolished, as are Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS); binding inspectors’ recommendations on development plan documents; and the Standards Board for England.
The meeting closed with a wide-ranging debate which concluded that the Bill will give landscape architects scope to extend their work practice, particularly in relation to community consultation and collaborative design.