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The AJ's bloggers track the latest developments in the plan to hand power to the people

English councils' local development plan status coverage

NPPF fallout: 52% of councils do not have local plans

More than half of English councils have failed to draw up local plans in time for the NPPF’s introduction later this month

Localism: where did it all go wrong?

It promised to give local authorities the power to write their own development plans, but now experts say it is stifling growth and confusing an already murky planning process, reports Merlin Fulcher


Reaction: Localism Bill becomes Localism Act

The Localism Bill was given Royal Assent yesterday, opening the way for a ‘profound’ overhaul of the English planning system

Richard Rogers

Rogers hits out against ‘fundamentally flawed’ planning reform

Richard Rogers has hit out against the government’s proposed overhaul of the planning system claiming it could merge cities and ‘scar the countryside for generations’

RIBA president Angela Brady

RIBA urges architects to ‘Get local’

The RIBA has urged architects to seize the localism agenda and help communities make the most of their new planning powers


NPPF consultation lands 13,700 responses

The government has given MPs extra time to contribute to the debate over its controversial planning reforms following huge interest in the policy

Geoff Armstrong , partner at town planning practice DPP

Localism: identifying the people that matter is vital

The Localism agenda means more work and more proactivity, so getting the ‘key influencers’ on side early is critical, says Geoff Armstrong

Working Together. Delivering Growth Through Localism

The tale of two Localism Guides

Everybody wants to know what the impact of the government’s localism agenda will really be. Here are two, very different, explanatory guides

Craig Casci of Grid Architects

The answer to the housing crisis: unblocking planning

Craig Casci of Grid Architects argues that housing problems are a symptom of the broken planning system, not the lack of land or delivery

Planning inspectors told to take into account draft NPPF

The planning inspectorate has issued guidance to its officers to start viewing the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as a ‘material consideration’ in their decisions

George Osborne

Osborne and Pickles: Do not underestimate government commitment to planning reform

Chancellor George Osborne and communities secretary Eric Pickles have defended the governments’ proposed planning reforms amid fierce opposition from conservation groups

Planning minister Greg Clark

Planning minister gives 36 more councils extra planning powers

The fourth wave of councils to be given new neighbourhood planning powers has been named by the Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Press release: New help for markets to assess their performance and contribution to the local economy


    High Streets Minister Marcus Jones has welcomed new guidance published today (28 July 2015) that will help cities, towns and villages show the positive impact that markets can bring to their local area and economy.

    Between 2012 to 2014 an estimated 1,000 people started businesses in their local market and this new guidance will provide better tools for analysing market place footfall and gauge the views of customers and traders helping market managers and operators decide which stalls will work best for them.

    This will not only aid in attracting modern consumers but will also help markets demonstrate the considerable contribution they make to the vibrancy of our high streets and town centres, supporting businesses, local jobs and enhancing community life.

    Speaking on a visit to Plymouth City Market Marcus Jones said:

    We have a proud heritage of markets in this country, but they also need to evolve with the changing high streets of today and adapt to modern technologies.

    This is practical resource that will help investments in our markets both today and tomorrow and I would encourage all market managers and operators to use it.

    Marcus Jones at the Whole Plaice stall at Plymouth City Market
    Marcus Jones at the Whole Plaice stall at Plymouth City Market

    National Association of British Market Authorities (Nabma) President, Councillor Mick Barker said:

    I am delighted to welcome this further addition to the range of resources that are being provided to retail markets to help them assess their performance, and show how much value they add to the local economy and community. Developed as part of our ‘Mission for Markets’ initiative, this guidance will help markets respond to the changing needs of the future.

    The new ‘how to’ guidance comprises a series of assessment templates which look at:

    • establishing surveys with shoppers, traders and market managers to establish the financial performance of markets
    • how to record and project data on the number of people visiting or passing through a market to gain an estimate of spending customers

    It was developed from work undertaken by ROI as part of their ‘Mission for Markets’ programme that examined the performance of 6 different markets, including Plymouth City Market included as an example of an indoor general market.

    Marcus Jones at Rudie's Comix stall at Plymouth City Market
    Marcus Jones at Rudie's Comix stall at Plymouth City Market

    Plymouth City Market is a long-established, large and varied market open 6 days per week. Managed by Plymouth city council, the market is home to 150 stalls and 40 shops and a £3.5 million investment scheme has recently been confirmed to make some necessary modernisation to the building.

    Further information

    The new guidance ‘Assessing the Financial Performance of Your Market’ is available on the Nabma website. It is designed to enable market managers to better assess and demonstrate the benefits that markets can bring to the local economy and retail offer.

    The guidance is designed to be read in conjunction with individual reports produced by ROI Team, in association with Nabma, examining the performance of 6 different markets, including Plymouth City Market. The other markets were Ashton-under-Lyne, Keswick, Poulton-le-Fylde, Market Harborough and Kingston-upon-Thames Ancient Market. These reports (with the exception of Keswick) were published on 23 June 2015, and are available on the Nabma website.

    The department supports ‘Love Your Local Market’, a celebration of market culture that happens over a fortnight in May each year. In 2015 a record number of 1,200 places took part and over 3,800 market events were held over the fortnight.

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  • News story: Help to secure a rental home: the MOD Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme


    Moving home within the private rented sector is very competitive and can be expensive. Sometimes affording a deposit can be a barrier to moving, and this is a fact that has now been recognised by the Government and within the Ministry of Defence.

    Speaking on the launch of the Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme, Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory, said:

    I am delighted that all permanent Service and civilian personnel, including staff in DE&S, are able to apply for this scheme and I am particularly grateful to the Department of Communities and Local Government who originally developed this initiative and then encouraged us to take part.

    The scheme reinforces the Department’s Whole Force Approach to all those permanent employees of Defence – military and Civil Service, who collectively deliver our outputs. Moving home can be expensive and can lead to cash flow challenges for individuals and families; the Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme is designed to alleviate that problem. It will help allow individuals to exercise greater choice in where and how they live their lives, and it complements wider efforts for Service personnel, particularly under the New Employment Model, to modernise their terms and conditions of service.

    Finally I would like to stress that Line Managers, Commanding Officers or Delegated Authorities have a crucial role in approving the advance in a timely manner and checking the evidence that the landlord has paid the deposit into a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

    Extra help when relocating

    The advance of salary loan is limited only to the cost of the deposit and must be repaid within 12 months. Repayments are recovered from salary on a monthly basis – in a very similar manner to the Season Ticket Advance Scheme which most Defence personnel will be familiar with. Critical to the scheme is that, having paid your deposit, your landlord must put it in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme, as set out in the Housing Act 2004. You have 45 calendar days to provide your Line Manager with evidence (usually a certificate) that this has happened.

    For further information on how to apply, civilians and service personnel should search under ‘Tenancy Deposit Loan scheme’ on the MOD Defence Intranet.

    The Government has provided a guide for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities.

  • Press release: More communities take control of their areas


    A further 250 communities across England are now taking greater local control and addressing important local issues, Communities Minister Marcus Jones said today (24 July 2015).

    Using the Community Rights programme local people are having a greater say on everything from job creation and health priorities, right through to what development is needed, where it should go and what it should look like.

    Following the launch of the new support programme in February, government funding is now supporting a series of new programmes to give people greater local control and influence.

    These include:

    • The £1 million Community Economic Development programme – a programme delivered by Co-Operatives UK in partnership with the Community Development Foundation, the New Economics Foundation, Community Development Finance Association and Locality. This is supporting 50 communities to identify practical opportunities to develop the local economy, including a project in Cornwall led by Pop-Up Penzance, which is piloting a number of youth markets to engage young entrepreneurs give them practical experience, develop their skills and ultimately grow new businesses.
    • The £3 million Our Place and First Steps programme – delivered by Locality, the Community Development Foundation and partners, is supporting 64 areas to transform services at a neighbourhood level. Our Place projects include the Shiney Advice and Resource Project (ShARP) in Houghton Le Spring, Tyne and Wear. They are developing an Advice on Prescription service that aims to reduce the number of GP appointments for non-clinical issues including for those anxious about debt, benefits, loneliness and isolation.

    Communities Minister, Marcus Jones said:

    There is a growing movement of people up and down the country who are taking advantage of our Community Rights support programmes.

    Local people know what’s already great about the places they live in and how to make them even better, whether that’s through taking control of the local community centre, redesigning services for older people or helping young people into employment.

    Our support programmes will help them to harness their skills and knowledge to tackle a wide range of issues that are important to them and make their areas even better places to live and work.

    Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:

    The Community Rights programme, designed around the needs of local people, includes the first Community Economic Development support for a generation. Co-operatives UK and our delivery partners see this as a unique opportunity to find bootstrap solutions to the economic problems faced by communities across the country.

    Locality Chief Executive Tony Armstrong said:

    Locality is having great success in helping local people to shape their own neighbourhoods through the Community Rights Advice Service, the Our Place programme, through neighbourhood planning and by taking on the ownership or management of important community assets, and our dedicated and knowledgeable team is on hand to help more and more communities take control of their own futures.

    June Robinson, Community Enterprise and Volunteer Manager at the Shiney Advice and Resource Project said:

    Shiney Advice and Resource Project are delighted to be part of the Our Place Programme. This gives us the opportunity to work at a neighbourhood level with partners.

    Advice on Prescription will provide a direct referral service to patients presenting with anxiety and depression which may be caused or worsened through debt and financial hardship.

    We look forward to working with Locality and our partners in developing this innovative solution within our community.

    Locality and partners are supporting 51 areas on the £1.5 million Community Ownership and Management of Assets programme. This includes Gedling borough council who are working with a diverse group of community organisations including sports clubs, an art groups, neighbourhood groups and a play group. Their aim is to transfer ownership of community centres in the borough to community groups.

    Councillor Kathryn Fox, Portfolio Holder for Communities said:

    We’re working with community groups to review the possibility of transferring some of our community centres. We will be working closely with the groups to ensure that the resource and capacity is in place and the transfers will be part of our community asset transfer policy which is to be adopted this year, and will advise possible future asset transfers.

    The government is also funding the My Community Advice Service and the My Community Network. The advice service provides expert help and support to anyone who wants to find out more about the Community Rights and how to take control over local land and buildings, local services, the local economy and carry out Neighbourhood Planning. The service gives them the opportunity to download resources from the website, or seek help by email or over the phone with an advisor.

    Already there have been over 800 enquiries to the advice service; over 12,000 people have visited the website; and the network has over 500 members. Both the advice service and network are completely free to use and join. Details can be found at

    Alison Seabrooke, Chief Executive of the Community Development Foundation said:

    It is fantastic to see such a high level of interest in the My Community Network in such a short space for time. This shows that there is clearly a real appetite to connect with others from across the country to seek and share advice.

    More communities are also having a much greater say on what development is needed, where it should go and what it should look like, with over 1,500 communities having started the process of neighbourhood planning.

    And the Community Development Foundation is working with 115 new communities in hard to reach areas on the First Steps programme to help them develop a community action plan. This will set out the priorities for their neighbourhood and the tools they need to tackle them.

    Further Information

    The new support programme for 2015 to 2018 was launched at the end of February and so far it has supported over 300 groups, awarding £2 million in grant and technical support. £244,000 has also been awarded to groups looking to develop community buildings.

    For details of the individual projects supported by the programmes and their locations, you can access our updated interactive map which now lists over 250 projects using Community Rights tools under this year’s support programme and over 2,700 since the inception of community rights under the Localism Act.

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  • Press release: Green Deal Finance Company funding to end


    In light of low take-up and concerns about industry standards there will be no further funding to the Green Deal Finance Company, in a move to protect taxpayers.

    The Government will work with the building industry and consumer groups on a new value-for-money approach, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd announced today.

    Amber Rudd also announced that the Government will stop any future funding releases of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

    Future schemes must provide better value for money, supporting the goal of insulating a million more homes over the next five years and the Government’s commitment to tackle fuel poverty.

    This decision has no impact on existing Green Deal Finance Plans or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications and vouchers.

    Today’s announcement comes as part of Government’s wider review of energy policies. The Energy and Climate Change Secretary has confirmed that her first priority is to get spending under control.

    Amber Rudd said:

    We are on the side of hardworking families and businesses – which is why we cannot continue to fund the Green Deal.

    It’s now time for the building industry and consumer groups to work with us to make new policy and build a system that works.

    Together we can achieve this Government’s ambition to make homes warmer and drive down bills for 1 million more homes by 2020 – and to do so at the best value for money for taxpayers.

    The Government has commissioned an independent review led by Peter Bonfield to look at standards, consumer protection and enforcement of energy efficiency schemes and ensure that the system properly supports and protects consumers.

    Current Government policies including the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme will continue to provide support this year to low-income and vulnerable households, reflecting the fact that ECO delivered 97% of home improvements in the last two years.

    DECC will work in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government to improve the UK’s existing housing stock. The longer-term future of the Energy Company Obligation scheme will be part of these discussions around a new, better-integrated policy.

    Note to Editors

    • Further details for people who have current Green Deal loans and plans can be found on the DECC blog.

    • By the end of June 2015 measures had been installed in around 10,000 properties using Green Deal finance, with an additional 5,600 Green Deal finance plans currently in progress.

    • Dr Peter Bonfield OBE is an engineer by background with experience in household energy and building design. He has carried out high-level reviews for Government. A full biography can be found on the BRE website.

    • Lord Bourne today sent a letter notifying the Green Deal Finance Company of no further government funding.

  • Press release: Eid message from Baroness Williams


    As the holy month of Ramadan draws to a close I would like to wish British Muslims a happy and blessed Eid.

    Throughout the month, mosques, community centres and places of worship have come together to share the iftar meal with friends and neighbours from different faiths and backgrounds.

    Many of these Big Iftars have been especially poignant this year as we remember the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica 20 years ago and commit to tackling intolerance and hatred in the future.

    As you prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan with family and friends and share your festivities with your wider communities, I wish you all a happy and peaceful Eid ul Fitr.

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  • Press release: Coastal Community Teams to take control of seaside regeneration


    • 116 Coastal Community Teams in every corner of the country
    • seaside towns to benefit from funding and support
    • Budget confirmed £90 million Coastal Community Fund to continue
    • teams can also bid for new £3 million Coastal Revival Fund

    Coastal Communities Minister Mark Francois today (17 July 2015) gave his support to over 100 new local teams that will help revive England’s seaside towns and decide where investment goes.

    The government has provided more than £1 million to fund 104 further Coastal Community Teams, on top of 12 existing pilots, to help bring jobs, growth and prosperity back to our beach towns and cities. The teams – bringing together local business, councils and people – will help coordinate regeneration projects in their area and get the chance to shape the next wave of the successful Coastal Communities Fund, announced in the Budget last week.

    Speaking on a visit to Felixstowe in Suffolk on Friday, Coastal Communities Minister Mark Francois said:

    This one nation government is determined to devolve powers and funding so that no corner of the country is left behind. This includes our historic coastal towns and cities that have in some cases fallen into decline in the past but can now ensure that the economic recovery is coming back to them too.

    Coastal Community Teams will help decide where that investment goes because local people know best what is needed to grow their local economy. We are backing them with £1 million of direct support and the Budget also confirmed last week that at least £90 million more will be spent in the coming years through the Coastal Community Fund, which these teams will have access to.

    By bringing together local businesses, local leaders and volunteers, Coastal Community Teams can help tap into their local heritage and make the most of our stunning seaside assets to make a success of the tourist trade. The teams can also help ensure local people have the skills and opportunities so that they benefit from the new jobs and investment too.

    Along with each area being awarded £10,000 to kick-start work, the 116 Coastal Community Teams will also be able to bid for up to a £50,000 share of a new £3 million Coastal Revival Fund to support or restore local heritage and facilities which benefit the wider community and the surrounding economy, which is now open to applications.

    Historic England Chief Executive Duncan Wilson said:

    Heritage is an integral part of the English seaside; piers, bandstands, theatres and promenades are the backdrop to many happy summer holidays, but these kind of historic buildings often need money to help with repairs. Coastal Community Teams have fantastic ideas on revitalising and reusing their most precious buildings and this Coastal Revival Fund offers an excellent opportunity to get those projects up and running.

    Heritage Lottery Fund Chairman Sir Peter Luff said:

    Our coast has a distinctive heritage that, with the right investment, can drive regeneration, economic growth and job creation. The Coastal Revival Fund will help to unlock that potential and enable communities to take the first steps towards securing wider investment. The Heritage Lottery Fund is one source of that investment and we look forward to working with the Department for Communities and Local Government and local partners to achieve this vision.

    Launched in 2012, the Coastal Communities Fund has already allocated nearly £119 million on 222 local infrastructure and economic projects across the UK. This is helping to create almost 13,700 jobs and provide more than 10,280 training places and apprenticeships. The Summer Budget last week announced that the Coastal Communities Fund would be extended to 2020 with at least £90 million of new funding.

    Further information

    The 116 new Coastal Community Teams, including the 12 existing pilot areas, will be in:

    East Midlands

    • East Lindsey and Heritage Coast
    • Coast NE Lincs (Grimsby)
    • Mablethorpe and Sutton
    • Skegness

    East of England

    • Felixstowe
    • Greater Ipswich
    • Jaywick
    • Lowestoft
    • Cromer
    • Deben Peninsula (Suffolk)
    • Great Yarmouth
    • Hunstanton
    • Leigh-on-Sea
    • Maldon
    • River Crouch
    • Shoeburyness
    • Southend
    • Wells-next-the-Sea

    North East

    • Coatham & Redcar
    • North Shields and Fish Quay
    • Bamburgh, Beadnell & Seahouses Northumberland
    • Blyth
    • Durham - Connected Coast
    • Hartlepool Headland & Harbour
    • Roker & Seaburn (Sunderland)
    • Seaton Carew (Hartlepool)
    • South Shields

    North West

    • Blackpool
    • Barrow-in-Furness (Islands & Bays)
    • Fleetwood
    • Maryport, Cumbria
    • New Brighton (Wirral)
    • North Copeland
    • Sankey Canal Linking the Locks (Widnes)
    • Sefton Coast
    • Silloth-on-Solway, Cumbria
    • South Copeland Coast
    • South Ribble
    • St Anne’s
    • Waterloo and Crosby (Southport)

    South East

    • Brighton and Hove
    • Eastbourne
    • Bexhill-on-Sea
    • Bognor Regis Heritage Quarter
    • Broadstairs
    • Chatham
    • Coastal West Sussex
    • Deal and Sandwich
    • Dover
    • Dymchurch (Kent)
    • Folkestone
    • Gosport
    • Gravesend
    • Hastings - White Rock Trust
    • Herne Bay
    • Isle of Sheppey
    • Lewes - Impact Seaford
    • Littlehampton
    • Margate
    • Newhaven
    • Peninsula Coastal Economy Team, Chichester
    • Pevensey, East Sussex
    • Ramsgate
    • Ryde, Isle of Wight
    • Sandown, Isle of Wight
    • South Hayling Island
    • Southampton
    • Whitstable

    South West

    • Penzance
    • Barnstaple
    • Beer, East Devon
    • Bideford
    • Bridport
    • Brixham
    • Bude
    • Burnham-on-Sea (Somerset)
    • Clevedon
    • Dorchester
    • Portland Dorset
    • Exe Estuary
    • Exmouth
    • Falmouth Area
    • Fremington (North Devon)
    • Hayle, Cornwall
    • Looe
    • Lydney (Forest of Dean)
    • Lyme Regis
    • Lynton and Lynmouth
    • Minehead
    • Newquay
    • Newton Abbot
    • Ilfracombe
    • Paignton
    • Plymouth
    • Porthcurno
    • Porthtowan
    • Portreath
    • Saltash Waterside (Cornwall)
    • SevernNet (Bristol)
    • St Austell
    • St Endellion (Cornwall)
    • St Ives
    • Teignmouth and Dawlish Coast
    • Torpoint & Rame
    • Torquay
    • Wadebridge (Cornwall)
    • Watchet (West Somerset)
    • Weston-super-Mare
    • Weymouth

    Yorkshire and Humber

    • Hull
    • Bridlington
    • Goole
    • North York Moors Coast
    • Scarborough
    • Whitby
    • Withernsea (East Riding)

    19 of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships are in coastal areas and as part of the government’s Growth Deals, over £700 million has been committed to projects in these areas to improve transport infrastructure, broadband connectivity, improving flood defences and improving opportunities for local people.

    8 out of the 24 Enterprise Zones are in coastal areas which offer incentives for businesses to start up or expand including Business Rates relief, superfast broadband and simplified planning. Coastal Enterprise Zones have delivered over 5,300 jobs to date and helped to secure nearly £275 million of private sector investment to coastal areas.

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