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MPS READY TO REVOLT OVER PLANNING PAPER

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The government is set to face a backbench rebellion over its shake-up of the planning system, according to the chai...
The government is set to face a backbench rebellion over its shake-up of the planning system, according to the chair of a committee that produced a scathing report into the proposals.

In a wide-ranging critique of the planning green paper, MPs said the reforms would achieve the opposite of what was intended.

The transport, local government and the regions committee said a new generation of 'Swampies' would be born out of the desire to speed up decisions, with a greater determination to resist major projects.

The committee accused ministers of taking a shallow approach to reform and claimed the government's view of the planning system as a brake to economic growth was based on 'anecdote and prejudice'. It said the most prosperous cities were often the best planned.

It said the government's 'business agenda' has exaggerated the current systems problems, but failed to address key issues. Increasing the number of skilled planners would be a more effective way of dealing with problems, argued the committee.

Although the government has admitted more planners are needed, low morale has deterred many from entering the profession. Shaming authorities for poor performances based on speed rather than quality has contributed to this.

'The committee was astonished by the lack of attention to the most obvious problem facing the delivery of an effective planning service, namely under-resourcing.'

It will take at least five years to establish the new system, although ministers often attack councils for not preparing plans in time, the MPs stated. They added that rather than working against 50 years of local authority experience, ministers should work with councils for a gradual modernisation.

'The government's proposals are unworkable as a whole,' concluded the MPs.

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