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Localism: Businesses to get bigger say in neighbourhood plans

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Firms are to be given a greater role in neighbourhood plans under proposed changes to planning laws, the Government has said

The amendments to legislation relate to Section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 - the key guidance local authorities follow when considering planning applications.

The revision will ensure ‘any local finance considerations’ are given more weight when decisions are made on potential new developments, ministers said.

Under neighbourhood planning - central to the Government’s localism agenda - local groups will be able to draw up plans, subject to a referendum, to set out the kind of development they want to prioritise in their area.

But the amendments have broadened the role of the plans and can now be set up expressly for ‘promoting the carrying on of trades, professions or other businesses in such an area’.

The Government has also enlarged the number of people needed to create a neighbourhood forum - the groups who would put neighbourhood plans together.

Under previous provisions in the Localism Bill, the Government suggested that three people would be enough to constitute a neighbourhood forum, but this has now been changed to include ‘a minimum of 21 individuals’.

British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace said: ‘We have been hugely impressed with the willingness of ministers to engage on this issue, and we are delighted that they have listened to the concerns that have been put forward by the business community.

‘Businesses, including property owners, are as much a part of a community as residents and their involvement will be vital if Government is to realise its aim of using the planning system to boost development and economic growth.’

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