The Government has confirmed that it has received 56 proposals from across the country for local enterprise partnership schemes (LEPs). These will promote economic development across local authority boundaries.
Over the coming weeks ministers will consider the proposals in detail, looking at how they will support economic growth, before providing feedback to partnerships ahead of the publication of the White Paper on sub-national economic growth and the introduction of the Localism Bill.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "These 56 local enterprise partnership proposals are just the beginning of a new radical way of delivering prosperity and rebalancing the economy.
"We are facing economic problems that need solutions from local communities. The secret to the success of local enterprise partnerships will be working on the basis of local economic geography - gone are the artificial political regions of Regional Development Agencies - this will better serve the needs of local business.”
However, organisations such as the the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have warned that the loss of strategic planning, without a viable replacement, would be bad news for environmental protection for the countryside, and for the development of necessary local infrastructure.
CPRE is concerned that the Partnerships will be too narrowly focused to address broad strategic planning issues. Removing the strategic level of planning altogether means there will be nothing between national projects, such as High Speed Rail, and small-scale local development proposals, it said.
The countryside group has argued that the lack of strategic focus “would undermine local authorities’ ability to ensure adequate protection for the Green Belt and other important green spaces. It could also hinder the delivery of necessary development such as transport links and affordable housing in the most suitable locations.”
Gerald Kells, campaigns coordinator for CPRE, said: “This Government has set itself ambitious goals by setting out to be the ‘greenest government ever’, to protect the Green Belt and to provide new homes where they’re needed. However, these goals cannot be realised through local action alone. There must be a bridge between the local and national level if we are to make the sensible land use decisions. The cumulative impact of myriad local decisions will not necessarily result in an effective strategy.”
Download the CPRE report ‘The bigger picture: the case for strategic planning’.
9 September 2010