DRAMATIC CHANGES IN THE EAST OF ENGLAND….
- Regional Strategies: (which the last government used to implement ‘top-down’ housing targets) have been revoked by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State, on 6th July 2010. Therefore the middle tier of planning between national and local policy is – for the time being at least – no more.
- Regional Development Agencies:
though set up by the Major government, these will be dissolved by April
2012. The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has already seen its
budget cut considerably
- Government Offices: It is intended that the eight government offices (including Go-East) will be closed by the summer of 2011.
- Local Government Leaders’ Boards: no more central Government funding; nor any further role in planning matters. For the time being the East of England Local Government Association will continue to exist – albeit dramatically smaller with a far narrower remit:
- Bonfire of the Quangos: including the Commission for Rural Communities, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Inland Waterways Advisory Council. Funding in England will also be withdrawn from the Sustainable Development Commission.
- Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC): the Government has announced that the IPC will be abolished and that its work would be taken over by a new Major Infrastructure Planning Unit within the Planning Inspectorate. However as this requires legislation, in the meantime, the IPC will continue its present role
(This situation has a direct impact in the East of England as a number of applications from the region are likely to be made in the near future. On 5 August, the IPC received the formal application for development consent from Covanta in relation to the proposed “energy from waste” plant at Rookery South in Bedfordshire.)
What does the Government intend to put in place?
Besides a commitment to ‘localism’ and an apparent loathing for all things regional, it is too early to say with confidence how exactly the Government intend to reshape the planning system. The following are contenders that may feature in the Decentralisation and Localism Bill – anticipated in Parliament in November 2010
- Incentives for Local Authorities to encourage new housing
- New rights of appeal in planning applications
- Neighbourhood Planning
- Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) – likely to consist of business and local authority leaders and are intended to deal with ‘sub-regional’ matters such as transport and waste.
While we do not shed a tear for the end of top-down housing targets, we are concerned at the speed and uncertainty of these reforms.
For example, incentives cannot be used to persuade Local Authorities to build on green belt or increased rights of appeal utilised by developers to push through destructive development proposals. The environment cannot be ignored and we are concerned that stakeholders will not be allowed the chance to scrutinise works of LEPs.
We urge all who care about our threatened landscape to remind our MPs not to forget our countryside in the ongoing changes.
19 August 2010
The Campaign to Protect
Rural England exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and
diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of
land and other natural resources in town and country.