Clive Betts, Labour MP and chair of the Levelling Up, Communities and Housing Committee, has written to the Housing minister Michael Gove and asked him to respond to a series of points raised in a legal opinion authored for Rights: Community: Action.
The concern is that the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill would ‘substantially erode public participation in the planning system’. The exisiting planning system is based on the primacy of local development plans, which are ‘produced locally via a statutory process that involves considerable public participation’, but that the new system would ‘elevate national development management policies to the top of the planning hierarchy’.
Currently the bill ‘contains no obligation to allow the public to participate in the development of national development management policies’ and provides ‘very limited opportunities for public participation’ in the creation of two new development plan documents: spatial development strategies and supplementary plans.
A spokesperson for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said national development management policies would set out a country-wide approach to issues like the green belt and protecting historic land and were not about overruling local plans.
The spokesman also calimed that the new planning system would empower local decision-making, for example, digitisation allowing residents to view planning applications on their phone and the introduction of design codes meaning developers must respect styles drawn up and favoured locally.
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