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Localism

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

Eric_Pickles

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

Planning

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

  • News story: 'How to train your family'

    2014-07-28T16:35:53+01:00

    The Department for Communities and Local Government has teamed up with the Hollywood animation studio, DreamWorks, to launch an innovative partnership between the award-winning Fire Kills campaign and the new ‘How to train your dragon 2’ movie.

    Fire Kills encourages families to test their smoke alarms on the first day of every month, using a wide range of media channels to target audiences of all ages.

    The collaboration is an example of how the government is working constructively with the private sector to the benefit of both partners.

    The plot of the DreamWorks production released through 20th Century Fox - with friendly fire-breathing dragons living in wooden Viking homes, with obvious home fire risks - presented an opportunity for collaboration, using the power of the film’s brand to reach families and improve public safety. Producers permitted the use of selected images and characters from the film and arranged for special artwork to be commissioned.

    Fire Kills then ran a special ‘How to train your family’ campaign in the week leading up to the film’s launch on 11 July, benefiting from the extensive wider promotion of the film and targeting families with young children who, hopefully, will pester their parents to test their smoke alarms regularly.

    The collaboration resulted in an eye-catching press advert using images of the main characters Hiccup and Toothless - the dragon blowing smoke towards the smoke alarm and a call to action ‘test your smoke alarm on the first of every month’.

    Fire Kills launched the advert in the week of the film release through a Featurelink campaign – with editorial copy running alongside a paid for advert – in local newspapers across England, tailored in many areas by the inclusion of local fire and rescue service contact details.

    The Fire Kills Facebook page - with a following of 26,000 - also posted a modified version of the advert and promoted the message:

    You may not have a fire-breathing dragon in your home but you still need to train your family to test your smoke alarms to keep them safe. If you forgot on the first of the month, do it today.

    This post, uploaded on 8 July reached well over 1 million people.

    The Fire Kills team at the department and at Dorset Fire and Rescue Service also worked to develop content for an education pack which DreamWorks illustrated with their dragon characters - a valuable resource available to all fire and rescue services to use as part of outreach work with schools and young people. A special screening of the film took place in Dorset for the main partner school as a thank you for their support.

    Fire Services Minister Penny Mordaunt said:

    The Fire Kills campaign’s collaboration with ‘How to train your dragon 2’ is a brilliant way to spread this life-saving public safety message and reach a wider audience through partnership.

    The plot of the film and familiarity of its characters was too good an opportunity to miss given our campaign objective of persuading families to be more fire safe by regularly testing their smoke alarms.

    The power of young people’s influence is well known as being effective in getting parents to change their behaviour. And ‘How to train your family’ was the perfect way to tie the 2 together.

    Further information

    Fire Kills is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government in partnership with England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities. Its main aim is to encourage householders to make sure their smoke alarms are working by testing them regularly. The campaign also promotes other home fire safety messages, including planning escape routes, careful disposal of smoking products, taking extra care with cooking and electrical devices, installing extra smoke alarms where there are risks and testing for other people who need help.

    The main ‘Tick. Tock. Test’ campaign over the 2 clock change weekends in October and March urges people to test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks to check they are working properly.

    In 2013, the Fire Kills campaign’s successes included:

    • Marketing Society Award for Excellence (Not for Profit category)
    • Account Planning Group Silver Award
    • Millward Brown Award for Best Insight
    • Campaign magazine top 10 regional newspaper adverts for 2013

  • Statement to Parliament: Planning for unconventional oil and gas

    2014-07-28T15:08:37+01:00

    This Coalition government believes that shale gas has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs. Effective exploration and testing of the UK’s unconventional gas resources is key to understanding the potential for this industry so the government is creating the right framework to accelerate unconventional oil and gas development in a responsible and sustainable way.

    That is why this Coalition government has put in place an effective planning system to support unconventional oil and gas production in this country. We have amended regulations to streamline notification requirements and the calculation of fees to speed up the determination of planning applications, whilst ensuring the public are properly informed of planning applications in their locality. We have also updated planning guidance on oil and gas development to provide clarity on the role of the planning system and we have introduced a streamlined common application form to ensure less onerous requirements on the industry.

    Other regulators, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive will address sub-surface issues to protect against seismic disturbance or pollution of groundwater. Close working between all regulatory bodies will ensure that there remains a robust, comprehensive and safe regulatory regime in place.

    To further the exploration and testing of our unconventional gas resources, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is today (28 July 2014) inviting applications for new onshore licences in the area defined in the Strategic Environmental Assessment which has been conducted for further onshore licensing. More details are outlined in today’s written ministerial statement by Baroness Verma.

    It is important to note that this Coalition government recognises there are areas of outstanding landscape and scenic beauty where the environmental and heritage qualities need to be carefully balanced against the benefits of oil and gas from unconventional hydrocarbons. For this reason, my department is today making clear our approach to planning for unconventional hydrocarbons in National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites, by providing some additional planning guidance.

    Proposals for such development must recognise the importance of these sites. The guidance is available on the minerals section of the government’s planning guidance website and a copy of the new section has been placed in the Library of the House.

    We want to ensure that the government’s intentions in respect to development concerning unconventional hydrocarbons in these areas are given appropriate effect. So for the next 12 months from today, in applying the Secretary of State’s policy on recovering planning appeals (as stated in 30 June 2008, Official Report, House of Commons, Column 43WS), my department will give particular attention to recovering appeals for such developments. The position on the recovery of appeals will be reviewed after 12 months.

  • News story: Eid messages 2014

    2014-07-28T12:17:00+01:00

    Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said:

    As millions of Muslims in the UK and around the world mark Eid, the end of Ramadan, today I would like to wish you all a happy and joyous day. Whilst many people will have marked Ramadan by a period of peaceful prayer, thought and abstention I would also like to pause for thought for people in the middle east – many Muslim, but also many of other religions or none – who have not had the fortune of a peaceful month, and we all hope that peace and stability will soon return there.

    At home we have been fortunate and privileged to enjoy a peaceful Ramadan, and many mosques embraced the opportunity to open their doors to their community and hold a ‘big iftar’ welcoming in people from the area for the daily fast breaking meal. Many mosques and their worshippers will also have used Ramadan as a period where thinking of others come before oneself, including through increased charitable donations to both Muslim and non-religious charities. All of this furthers my already strong belief that Muslim values and British values can go hand in hand.

    Eid Mubarak.

    Video message by Secretary of State, Eric Pickles:

    Secretary of State Eric Pickles

    Video message by Minister of State for Faith and Communities, Baroness Warsi:

    Minister of State for Faith and Communities Baronees Warsi

    Video message by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

    Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

  • Press release: New onshore licensing round opens

    2014-07-28T08:00:00+01:00

    Ministers today opened the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas, to help discover how the gas under our feet can help power our homes.

    Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock published details of how companies can apply for licences which will enable them to start initial exploration for shale gas.

    The licences provide the first step to starting drilling – but do not give absolute agreement to drill. On top of a licence, any further drilling application will then require planning permission, as well as permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.

    Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon also made clear the government’s approach for unconventional hydrocarbons by providing some additional planning guidance for:

    • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
    • World Heritage Sites
    • National Parks
    • the Broads

    To be certain that this guidance is being applied, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will give particular consideration to recovering planning appeals arising from these types of developments for at least the next 12 months.

    DECC will also require detailed Statements of Environmental Awareness to be submitted with licence applications to these areas, to demonstrate applicants’ understanding of the environmental sensitivities relevant to the area proposed.

    Unless DECC is satisfied with the Statement the application will be rejected.

    Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said:

    Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth. We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy. As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the UK’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future.

    The new guidance published today will protect Britain’s great national parks and outstanding landscapes. Building on the existing rules that ensure operational best practices are implemented and robustly enforced. Ultimately, done right, speeding up shale will mean more jobs and opportunities for people and help ensure long-term economic and energy security for our country.

    Communities Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said:

    Effective exploration and testing of the UK’s unconventional gas resources is key to understanding the potential for this industry – so the government is creating the right framework to accelerate unconventional oil and gas development in a responsible and sustainable way.

    We recognise there are areas of outstanding landscape and scenic beauty where the environmental and heritage qualities need to be carefully balanced against the benefits of oil and gas from unconventional hydrocarbons.

    For this reason, I am today making clear our approach to planning for unconventional hydrocarbons in National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites.

    Proposals for such development must recognise the importance of these sites.

    Further Information:

    • The planning guidance is available on the Minerals section of the government’s planning guidance website.
    • Details of how to apply are available on the GOV.UK website.
    • A statement has also been made to parliament on this.
    • The government has also published a “regulatory roadmap” setting out the overall process as it applies to the different nations of the UK.
    • DCLG will publish new planning guidance regarding unconventional oil and gas developments in National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites in England. It is clear that applications should be refused in these areas other than in exceptional circumstances and in the public interest.
    • Where an application in these areas is refused locally and the developer appeals against that decision, Communities and Local Government Secretary of State Eric Pickles will consider whether to decide the appeal himself during the coming 12 months, to ensure the guidance is being properly applied. DCLG will review whether to continue doing so beyond that period.
    • DECC’s guidance for licence applicants will make clear that DECC will require the Statement of Environmental Awareness which forms part of the application to be particularly comprehensive and detailed where the licences applied for are in or adjacent to these areas. Unless DECC is satisfied with the Statement the application will be rejected. In addition, companies must meet DECC’s requirements for technical competence and financial capacity.
    • The grant of a licence does not mean that an operator can immediately start drilling. All oil and gas exploration has to meet the demanding requirements of the UK’s tough regulatory regime. In particular, operators require planning permission, appropriate permits from the relevant environmental regulator, and must meet HSE’s scrutiny of the safety of their proposed operations. The UK has a strong track record of robustly regulating the energy sector and there are tough regulations and requirements in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate against seismic activity and air pollution.
    • DECC has conducted a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for further onshore licensing, which was published for public consultation from 17 December to 28 March. DECC Ministers have considered all the responses to this consultation before deciding to proceed with a new licensing Round.
    • A map of the licence areas is available on GOV.UK.

  • News story: St Anne’s flag flies at heart of government

    2014-07-26T12:00:06+01:00

    Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, today (26 July 2014) raised the flag of St Anne’s on the Sea outside his department’s headquarters in Whitehall as part of an ongoing drive to encourage communities to create their own flags and celebrate local identities.

    This government is championing local communities continuing to cherish and celebrate traditional ties and community spirit. Ministers have previously changed the law to make it easier to fly flags without a permit from the council - these new freedoms include flying the St Anne’s on the Sea flag.

    The Secretary of State has praised the Flag Institute for its guide to help communities to design their own flags.

    St Anne’s on the Sea Town Council worked with its local Civic Society and the Flag Institute on the design of its flag which was first raised in the town last year. It features a lifeboat, representing the Laura Janet, which lost all of its 14 crew during a rescue attempt in 1886. The poignant flag was hoisted to mark St Anne’s Day, which is celebrated on July 26 every year.

    Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

    I’m delighted for Her Majesty’s Government to recognise and celebrate St Anne’s Day by flying the town’s flag in Whitehall. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together.

    I urge other areas across the country to come together and design their own flags to celebrate their local identity and community spirit.

    Sally Taylor, Town Clerk at St Anne’s on the Sea Town Council, said:

    The community’s response to the flag has been extremely positive and we’ve produced window stickers, mugs and brooches featuring the flag design, to help everyone fly the flag in their homes and workplaces.

    It’s fantastic that our flag will be proudly flown in London as well as in Lancashire.

    Further information

    This is part of a series of steps to champion England’s local and national identities. Earlier this year, the department launched a new initiative to support the ‘tapestry’ of traditional English counties being displayed on street and road signs. The government also published a new online interactive map of England’s county boundaries.

    Planning rules have been changed to allow for councils to put up boundary signs marking traditional English counties – including the likes of Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Westmorland and Middlesex. The government has also proposed changes to highways regulations to allow traditional county names to appear on boundary road signs.

    The government has previously changed Whitehall rules to allow local and county flags to be flown without planning permission, and supported the Flag Institute in encouraging a new wave of county and community flags to be designed and flown by local communities.

  • News story: Historic counties day celebrated in the heart of government

    2014-07-23T11:15:17+01:00

    Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles raised the flag of Cumberland today outside his department’s headquarters in Westminster to celebrate Historic County Flags Day and the important role ancient shires continue to play in the nation’s cultural heritage.

    Great Britain’s traditional counties date back over a thousand years of history, but were sidelined by Whitehall and municipal bureaucrats in recent decades. This includes the restructuring by Edward Heath’s government in 1965 and 1972.

    By contrast, this government is championing local communities continuing to cherish and celebrate such traditional ties and community spirit. The law was changed by Parliament to make it easier to fly flags without a permit from the council – these new freedoms include flying the Cumberland flag.

    Cumberland is a historic county of Great Britain dating from the 12th century. The first record of ‘Cumberland’ was in 945. But in 1974, the administrative council was combined with parts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire to form part of the new county of Cumbria. However, the traditional county still lives on and is most famously associated with the Cumberland sausage, the HMS Cumberland and Cumberland County Cricket Club.

    Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

    Great Britain’s counties continue to form an important part of our cultural and local identity in this country and many people remain deeply attached to their home county. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that binds communities together.

    Peter Boyce, Chairman of the Association of British Counties, said:

    People’s affinity for their county runs deep. Historic counties provide a living link to past generations who trod the same ground and nurtured the same loyalties as today’s Britons. They speak to us of the wonderful diversity of Great Britain, each possessing their own distinctive history, landscapes, traditions, dialects and building styles.

    Charles Ashburner, Chief Executive of the Flag Institute, said:

    The traditional counties of Great Britain are rich in history, yet inclusive of all of parts of society. These areas have survived modern administrative boundary changes and are enjoying an impressive resurgence. Flags have been the ultimate symbols of identity throughout history and they remain so today. So it is fitting to see the government flying the Cumberland flag today.

    Further Information

    This is part of a series of steps to champion Great Britain’s local and national identities. The department recently launched a new initiative to support the ‘tapestry’ of traditional English counties being displayed on street and road signs. The government also published a new online interactive map of England’s county boundaries.

    Planning rules have been changed to allow for councils to put up boundary signs marking traditional English counties – including the likes of Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Westmorland and Middlesex. The government has also proposed changes to highways regulations to allow traditional county names to appear on boundary road signs.

    The government has previously changed Whitehall rules to allow local and county flags to be flown without planning permission, and supported the Flag Institute in encouraging a new wave of county and community flags to be designed and flown by local communities.

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