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Government announces planning reforms

The government is in the process of unveiling an overhaul of the planning system to accommodate its huge residential development proposals.

Today, housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper has announced a package of reforms related to development on Green Belt and the planning consultation process.

The announcement comes only a few days after deputy prime minister John Prescott pledged a series of modernisations - which will help meet government targets of building 1.1 million new homes by 2016 in London and the South East - at a planning conference.

Cooper has announced reforms which will include a 'draft Green Belt direction to ensure greater scrutiny of significant developments on greenbelt' which will potentially free up new sites for the construction of houses.

In addition, she unveiled 'a consultation on planning for housing - ensuring the planning system responds better to changing demand for homes in different places.'

At last Wednesday's annual conference of the Town and Country Planning Association, Prescott pledged consultation on how to improve planning for housing, stressing the need for planning authorities to be proactive about good quality development.

The minister also hinted at new guidance which will encourage planners to tackle constraints which hold back difficult but appropriate sites from development.

These new initiatives come ahead of a draft new planning policy statement on housing, due in the autumn.

Prescott told conference delegates: 'We want local authorities to be positive and inclusive in their approach to plan making, rather than simply saying no to unsuitable development and then muddling through.

'In this way we can help create communities in which economic progress and social justice go hand in hand.'

by Rob Sharp

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