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01/10/2013

Lib Dems review planning policy

Liberal Democrats are holding a wide-scale review into the party’s thinking on planning policy.

The party believes that while the National Planning Policy Framework has defined the broad parameters of planning, it has further aspirations for the system to deliver strategic vision.
 
The review, chaired by MP Annette Brook and Lord Tope, is asking how planning decisions could be made at the right level and how to ensure democratic accountability for central government’s vision for major infrastructure projects.
 
Key questions to party members include whether the Planning Inspectorate should be abolished and what role the Secretary of State should play in any decisions which are not national and could be resolved locally.
 
The review also covers central and local government's roles in delivering business and growth while revitalising areas which fall into neglect. It is asking how many homes should be built in an area and whether the planning system should ensure different housing tenures feature in local plans.
 
Other questions posed by the party include whether planning officers are trained to deliver strategic outcomes and whether council structures for planning are fully compatible with other policies. It is also seeking views on how communities can be encouraged to take part in  neighbourhood plans and how the planning system can lever in social benefits such as open space and affordable homes.
 
The party is also questioning whether standards for design quality, building sustainability and enforcement should be top-down from central government or entirely set at local level.
 
Liberal Democrat councillors will be invited to a major consultation event  on the review in the autumn. The party will then meet professional bodies and other interested organisations before producing a paper for further consultation.

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