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LGA planning chiefs have launched a key document to contribute towards the debate around revitalising neighbourhood...
LGA planning chiefs have launched a key document to contribute towards the debate around revitalising neighbourhoods and speeding up the local planning process.

'The planning system should play a much greater role in delivering wider government policy objectives. A reformed planning system should help drive this approach forward', said cllr Nicky Gavron, chair of the working group that prepared the report.

The report makes positive proposals to widen the scope and simplify development plans, while shortening the time it takes to prepare them. As local Spatial Development Strategies, they would set out the geographic aspects of other local authority plans, strategies and programmes of investment and have less detail than conventional development plans.

It also proposes a process of engaging and empowering communities and other local interests to prepare neighbourhood plans. These will cover a wide spectrum of land use, transport and service delivery issues securing community involvement.

The report suggests several delivery mechanisms to help the achievement of sustainable development. It concludes by identifying follow-up work which needs to be taken on, as well as initiatives which can be taken now or would require legislation.

Cllr Gavron added: 'We have produced this first report now as a coherent set of proposals to complement other work being done by the Urban Task Force to feed into the Urban and Rural White Papers, and particularly to support the work of the Social Exclusion Unit on neighbourhood renewal.

'It advocates a 'wide angle' approach to planning, innovative in democratising the process and encouraging community ownerships.'

Professor Malcolm Grant of Cambridge University, and a member of the group commented: 'This report at last takes a hard look at the planning system and comes up with possible proposals for reform.

'The main objective is to change the culture, getting away from an obsession with detailed development plans. Instead we need joined-up thinking with other government initiatives such as combating social exclusion and urban renaissance through a new system of local spatial development strategies and neighbourhood plans. These will be much more flexible and easier to keep up to date.'

Richard Wakeford of the Countryside Commission said: 'This is intended as a discussion document but there are things that can be started now. It is about achieving positive planning to balance the negative aspects of development control. Communities with a positive vision can enjoy a future less dogged by NIMBYism.'


The LGA report was prepared by a working party, chaired by Cllr Gavron, of professional planners,academics and lawyers.

A small core group prepared the report, comprising:

Cllr Gavron, vice-chair of the LGA planning executive

Lee Shostak, EDAW

Richard Wakeford, Countryside Commission

Robert Upton, RTPI

Sam Richards, LGA

Tony Cumberbirch, consultant

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