CONSERVATIVE IN CONSTRUCTION: The Tories plan to streamline the planning system and make changes to the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the Planning Inspectorate and the Homes and Communities Agency
The planning system would be dramatically reformed under a Conservative government. The party has stated it would abolish what they see as the undemocratic new Infrastructure Planning Commission, the regional planning system, regional spatial strategies, and comprehensive area assessments, with the exception of the London Plan.
The IPC would be replaced with a public inquiry or Hybrid Parliamentary Bill system as used for Crossrail. The system of National Policy Statements for key infrastructure would be retained, subject to a parliamentary vote, unlike the present system which requires only parliamentary scrutiny.
The role of the Planning Inspectorate in determining Local Development Frameworks would be reduced; instead, local authorities would have a far more influential role. Specifically, councillors would be allowed to represent local concerns without breaching ‘predetermination’ rules.
The e-PIMS database would be extended to additional public bodies. The designation of brownfield sites would also be extended to include land previously occupied by agricultural buildings. The pilot Low Carbon Zones scheme would be reviewed with the intention of rolling them out nationwide.
Streamlining the planning system could herald the end of the Homes and Communities Agency, with its powers split between the Audit Commission and local authorities. Axis 3 funding under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - which is allocated for quality of life and diversification in rural areas - would be allocated directly to local authorities.
Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps (pictured) has called for an ‘open-source’ approach to the planning system. At the 2009 conference, he announced the Conservatives would match council tax receipts on new homes pound-for-pound in order to incentivise local communities to permit development.
First published in the Glenigan report Building a Conservative Britain. The report is available now for £795+VAT
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