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DELAYS DAMAGE DEMOCRATIC VOICE, PLANNING MINISTER TELLS COMMUNITY GROUPS

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The biggest shake-up in 50 years will make the planning system faster, fairer and more accessible to the community,...
The biggest shake-up in 50 years will make the planning system faster, fairer and more accessible to the community, Lord Falconer told environment groups.

He said the current system, which discriminates against those without huge cash reserves or unlimited time, was in chronic need of change.

Planning minister Lord Falconer said:

'I understand the concerns of people worried about major developments on their doorstep. But our proposals will make the current system more - not less - democratic.

'Presently, all final decisions on major projects are made by the Secretary of State. The proposed changes will mean parliament, for the first time, will have the chance to thoroughly scrutinise any plans before a decision is made.

'This will not only introduce a much stronger democratic protection for communities but speed the planning process significantly. The present system of delay only benefits those with deep pockets and unlimited time.'

He was at the museum to speak to a specially invited audience of green and community groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Council for the Protection of Rural England. He explained proposed planning reforms ahead of a green paper due out at the end of the year.

He added:

'No-one but planning lawyers benefit from an eight-year stalemate. By speeding the system we will ensure everyone has the chance to have their say on major plans.

'Making the planning system work for everyone is the aim of our reforms. If we don't get community involvement in the planning system then we don't get a planning system that works.'

The need to involve the community from the very start of the planning process was discussed.

Other issues raised included changes to the local development plan system, the quality of planning officers and the need for training and the impact of development on deprived communities.

Lord Falconer said:

'This was a hugely positive meeting with a number of very interesting points raised. They will certainly form part of our decision making around the green paper consultation process.'

Notes

1. The meeting at the Museum of London, called Hearing the Community Voice, was organised by the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE).

2. Those attending included representatives from the CPRE, Friends of the Earth, the Environment Trust, Planning Aid for London, Bankside Residents Forum and parish council representatives.

3. The Planning Green Paper is due to be published by the end of the year.

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