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  6. Planning reforms complete Commons passage

Planning reforms complete Commons passage

The Coalition’s flagship Localism Bill which contains major reforms of the planning system has completed its report stage and Third Reading in the Commons and is now bound for scrutiny in Lords.

During a series of votes in the lower chamber the Coalition saw off a sequence of Opposition amendments and considerable hostility to the new clause 15 which underpins the New Homes Bonus.

Planning minister Greg Clark expressly rejected claims that the new clause, which allows financial measures to be a material consideration, meant that planning permissions could, in effect, be sold.

He told MPs: “The proposal makes it clear that local finance matters that are relevant to planning considerations can be taken into account. It does not change the law in any way, and it is not some stealthy way in which to introduce a new basis for planning policy.

“Everyone knows that section 106 payments that are material in planning matters can be taken into consideration. The new clause reflects the fact that the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy, and, potentially, other rebates to the local community, as I like to call them, can be used for planning purposes.

“It is important to be clear, lest there is any doubt on the part of local authorities, that such rebates, just like under section 106, can be made when they are relevant to planning considerations.”

The amended bill includes change to the neighbourhood planning regime which means forums must have at least 21 members and a revised text, backed by the Royal Town Planning Institute, for the new duty for local authorities to cooperate with neighbouring councils over planning issues.

During consideration of the Bill Clark stressed that the promised white paper on the new National Planning Policy Framework, due in July, would have a clear definition of sustainable development.

Read the Commons Hansard record (begins 17 May 2011, column 195).

 

Roger Milne

19 May 2011