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Localism Bill and planning reforms
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Civic Voice’s main lobbying focus is on ensuring community groups have the resources and support to take advantage of the provisions in the Bill. hw is spot on inflagging this one and we are looking at the new #3m fund being set up to fund support to communities and the role Civic Voice might play.

With due respect, £3m is peanuts compared with the resources likely to be needed if communities are to take over the running of many cultural facilities, as is being suggested in many areas, including Oxfordshire, where the County Council is proposing cutting 20 libraries, and telling local communities that if they want libraries, they can join the ‘Big Society’ and run them themselves.

We can all enthuse about the better and more democratic involvement of communities, and Civic Societies in particular, in shaping the planning and design of both our built environment, AND our cultural environment, but this is very different from using Localism as a fig-leaf to disguise the abdication of responsibility by central and local Government for maintaining our society.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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There seems to be plenty of energy & time available to oppose bad planning proposals, I think the hope is that this can be channeled into working out good ones. I agree this won’t be easy.
In a medium sized City like Oxford, 150,000 or so people, defining a useful Neighboodhood is going to be tricky. Our 4,000 voter wards are probably too small

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Will the membership of the committee producing the Neighbourhood Plan include the Councillors for that Neighbourhood Area?.  Also who will decide on membership?    Also not sure that local communities as a whole are that willing to participate in such decision making.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Where there are parish councils they will take the lead - in other areas any community group with a constitution and open to anyone can put itself forward, including civic socieites. Indeed it is expected some civic societies will take on this role

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Will local councillors therefore have no role in planning control in future?

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Can Neighbourhood Plans depart from the LDF/Core strategy?

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Neighbourhood plans will still need to fit in with strategic policies in local plans and councils will still prepare these and decide on planning applications.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Picking up Peter’s point one back of the envelope estimate is that supporting communities will cost £200 million pounds. We are trying to ensure whatever is spent is spent well and to increase this amount.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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There is much common sense in the posts by my friend Peter York and by Henry Warne.

Constant changes to the planning system are unhelpful to say the least. The same applies to the Health Service, Education, the Police and many other services. The planning system is now so complicated that the public feel unable to engage with it. They feel powerless.

As Henry says there were many policies in the regional spacial strategies that were positive and helpful. These should be retained were appropriate. Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water as they say.

The single most important thing to do is to abolish the top down housing figures and replace them with figures decided by local authorities in their own areas after proper consultation with local people and taking properly into account their views. Not just ticking the consultation box and doing what they want to do as if the consultation had never happened!

When considering the provision for new housing and commercial development Local Authorities should have regard for the national as well as the local interest, in the form of National Policy Guidance, or the Localism Bill could become The Decentralisation and Nimbyism Bill which would be another disaster in the making.

This is what the new Bill is trying to achieve. It’s just a pity Eric Pickles couldn’t wait for the legislation to go through the parliamentary process before trying to jump the gun. But this intervention is only a distraction which will be resolved when the Bill is passed into law at the end of 2011.

The Localism Bill is such a flagship Bill for the Coalition it is inconceivable that they will withdraw it. It would be more productive to seek to improve the Bill as it makes it’s way through parliament and to hope it can be made to work in practice.

John Walker

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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James from Warwick makes some important points.

It will be very important that this process is “community” and not “developer” led, which is why we are campaigining for more support to be made available to communities and to equip local councils with the planning staff that they will need.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Thank you for your points, Tony, and for the briefing to MPs on which I have made comments.
London’s members have to consider neighbourhood planning in the context of its region which does have a regional strategy and must continue to have one, plus it targets on boroughs for housing and other topics.
We want to be able to devise neighbourhood plans which, in many cases, will be for an area in two or three boroughs, since our boundaries are stupid and run down town centre high streets. There will have to be provision for rationalising associated Core Strategies with a neighbourhood plan and not just the other way round.
Schemes of significance that affect amenities, views, context and public realm in any area should not be able to be submitted as applications unless they have had open and comprehensive public consultation with groups affected, including those adjacent to a borough boundary.
London Forum agrees with your points on community right to appeal and expects cost limitation. Greg Clark implies the Bill can define conformance with policies in a way that does not allow appeals.
We expect to develop support, training and guidance for London’s community groups on neighbourhood planning with the GLA, which is making a bid for funding, and with RTPI, TCPA, LVSC, PAfL Some of our members have devised area action plans as DPDs in LDFs, so we see the Localism of that process as good in enabling such work and reducing borough resistance and delay. Our LDF processes across the 33 boroughs in the context of the regional spatial and environment strategies are beginning to work well.
Asset transfer is something we are considering. In many cases it will have to be asset sharing/partnership.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Peter Thompson’s points are well made. London has many Friends of . . . groups managing parks, buildings and facilities that boroughs have neglected. We could not take on a lot more such work, as boroughs try to push responsibility into the ‘Big Society’. Libraries need to be run by professionals, not door key keepers.
My concern is that many voluntary groups will lose the grants they have now and the extra they may need in future, as a result of the cuts in local authority budgets and less financial support from businesses.
Peter Eversden

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Thank you for taking the time out to post and comment on today’s Civic Voice Live.

The debate on the Bill is going to be running throughout 2011 and it would be great to continue to have your comments. Please also let us know your views about the existing Planning Policies you want to see saved in the Government’s review (see earlier post) or visit the home page Poll.

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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John Walker - 11 January 2011 12:32 PM

The single most important thing to do is to abolish the top down housing figures and replace them with figures decided by local authorities in their own areas after proper consultation with local people and taking properly into account their views.
John Walker

If we did that in London, even fewer houses would be built. Too many communities want to keep their leafy suburbs and keep out social housing developments. We have a system of strategic housing land availability assessment and housing capacity analysis and we are starting another round of the whole process next week. Without it, I think house builders would struggle with some boroughs to build what is needed. There are local authorities who have negotiated down the housing numbers they could build, considerably. Some were continuing arguments for reductions in front of the Inspectors of the London Plan examination in public.
London needs clear cross-regional and borough targets for homes and policies for genuine estate renewal for the benefit of tenants and implementation of new social and intermediate (shared equity affordable) housing. Some communities might not be keen on that, except for the latter type.

Peter Eversden

 
 
Posted: 11 January 2011 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Peter Eversden succinctly describes the inherent conflict between perceived national or regional top down requirements and what people will accept in their own areas. This used to be “resolved” by local authorities having to comply with their County Structure Plans. This seemed to work quite well. People can relate to their local Borough Council and to their County Council but not to regional authorities. London could have it’s own Structure Plan with which the Borough Local Plans would have to be in alignment. Why did we ever change it, can anyone remember!

John Walker

 
 
   
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