1 November 2010

Eric Pickles has reiterated the Government’s plans for a reform of the planning system to encourage growth. Referring to the centrally imposed policies and targets that were inherited from the previous Government, the Minster hopes that the recently published Local Growth White Paper, which set out the Government’s economic ambition to build a fairer and more balanced economy, will aid this change.

 Mr Pickles announced that the Government will: 

  • reform the planning system so that it is driven by communities that want growth, as the Government consider  the system they inherited stifles development and innovation and acts as a barrier to economic recovery;
  • introduce a new duty to cooperate, for Local Authorities, statutory undertakers and infrastructure providers to ensure that the right people and groups share information and work together to make the best decisions for their area;
  • introduce a presumption in favour of sustainable economic development and introduce a new right for communities to shape their local areas through neighbourhood plans. A community right to build will also be introduced so that individuals, groups and businesses can deliver small-scale development without the need for planning permission; and
  • undamentally reform and simplify national planning policy and guidance, presenting to Parliament a simple national planning framework that will cover all forms of development. This framework is intended to establish economic growth as a Government priority for planning and lift many of the complex bureaucratic burdens that have slowed down decision-making.

 The Minister went on to detail the 24 recently announced Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and that dialogue between the LEP Boards and Government will shortly begin with the aim of supporting the delivery of their economic objectives. The Government’s vision for LEPs is that they will help transform the economic geography of the country by creating new local dynamism that will encourage economic growth and protect business with proper local accountability.

 LEPs are seen by the Minister as one part of the picture for local economic renewal, but a critical one, allowing communities and businesses to use their combined weight to support economic growth and renewal, in areas such as housing, planning, transport and skills.

 Alongside this, the Minister also discussed the £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which is now open for business. The fund will provide focused investment, support the creation of private sector jobs and will particularly support communities currently dependent on the public sector, helping them make the transition to private sector-led growth and prosperity. First-round bids for funding are required by 21 January 2011.