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Ken's 'planning power grab' panned by the City

The City of London yesterday evening slammed proposals to massively increase Ken Livingstone's planning powers in the capital.

Senior planners in the Square Mile are clearly dismayed that the mayor looks set to gain the right to approve schemes as well as give them the thumbs down.

Speaking yesterday morning, Livingstone admitted that the move would upset local councils, predicting that 'there will be a few spectacular rows'.

But the City of London's policy and resources committee chairman Michael Snyder has already vociferously come out against the proposals.

'London, as a world class city, needs modern, efficient regional government,' he said. 'The Government's plans for new Mayoral powers for waste, learning and, skills and housing help to ensure this.

'The new planning powers have the same aim too, but we are very concerned that they will add new layers of decision-making and delays, detract from London's ability to adapt quickly to the needs of modern international financial businesses, and threaten the City's competitive world position.

'UK planning laws and procedures are complicated enough already. To add new layers of complication in central London, with no discernible benefit to London's economy and prosperity, is a real worry.

'We will wish to discuss the new plans in the fullest detail both with the Government and the Mayor, before any legislation is prepared,' Snyder added.

The Corporation was echoing Tory criticism. 'He is now a one-man planning authority in London,' Tony Arbour, the Conservative planning spokesman, said.

'He has the powers to direct both consent and refusal of planning applications, which he considers strategic, irrespective of the views of the boroughs and those most directly affected by the proposals.

'In short this is a planning power grab from local communities,' Arbour added.

by Ed Dorrell

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