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Peers urged to act on 'cash for permission' clause in Localism Bill

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has urged peers to press ministers to remove the controversial Clause 124 from the Localism Bill

Ahead of the second reading of the Bill next week, the RTPI briefed members of the Lords about the legislation, raising three key issues.

Clause 124 would make ‘local finance considerations’ a material factor when local authorities decide on planning applications.

The RTPI said this clause undermined the principle that planning permission can’t be bought or sold, even if that’s only a perception of anyone looking on.

It would also result in more legal challenges, creating uncertainty for everyone involved including investors.

President of the RTPI Richard Summers said: ‘We hope the Government takes the opportunity to make further improvements to the Localism Bill in the Lords. The proposed change will only increase public suspicion and cynicism about the planning process’.

The RTPI has put forward solutions to other problems with the Bill. It said the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should by statutory and that neighbourhood planning arrangements must be simpler.

The RTPI also warned pre-determination, the right to challenge, community assets and referenda, which are not in the ‘planning’ sections of the Bill, could hinder effective planning.

Other suggestions put forward to peers were for improvements to the provisions for local planning, pre-application consultation and enforcement.

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