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Livingstone bid could cut planning appeals

The number of planning appeals and inquiries on major applications could be set to dwindle dramatically if London Mayor Ken Livingstone's bid to increase his powers goes ahead.

Livingstone is bidding to win the right to approve schemes in the capital, in addition to his current power to direct local authorities to reject applications.

This would have a massive impact on the way that the planning process is currently undertaken by large-scale developers.

While City Hall insiders insist that the mayor is not interested in doing away with inquiries and appeals, one predicted to the AJ that they would only be used in 'extenuating' circumstances.

This source also insisted that Livingstone was determined not to undermine the power of planning committees except in situations where they 'chose to reject schemes which clearly have a strategic importance within the London Plan'.

Arguably the three most important schemes to have gone in front of an inspector in the last 12 months would not have had to face the process under the mayor's plans.

These were Ian Ritchie's proposal for a cluster of 'mini towers' at Potters' Fields; Terry Farrell's plans for the Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea; and Broadway Malyan's highly contentious Vauxhall Tower designs.

All three schemes, which won the go ahead after appeal, were rejected by their local planning committees, but would have received the green light if the mayor had been empowered to approve them.

by Ed Dorrell

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