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PLANNING BILL SPARKS DEBATE

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County councils will continue to play a key role in strategic planning if the government does not overturn a House ...
County councils will continue to play a key role in strategic planning if the government does not overturn a House of Lords defeat, opposition peers have claimed.

They inflicted two more defeats as the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Bill returned to the Lords, and the stage is set for a new bout of parliamentary ping-pong.

The Conservatives said the counties must retain powers in areas with no elected regional assemblies, rather than having an advisory role.

Baroness Hanham, Conservative local government spokesman, said: 'We believe it is vital to ensure decisions are not taken at a regional level without the detailed knowledge and expertise from those closer to local developments.'

Liberal Democrat spokesman Baroness Hamwee said: 'The government talks about new localism on the one hand, while trying to remove a layer of elected people from the planning process on the other.'

Planning minister Lord Rooker denied the government was 'squeezing democracy out of the system' and said the public would gain greater involvement in the planning system as a result of the legislation.

He warned there was a limit to the amount of parliamentary time that could be devoted to the

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