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RIBA victorious as plans to give planning appeals to councillors are binned

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Contentious government proposals to remove the right to appeal to a planning inspector on ‘smaller’ applications are set to be canned.

Both the RIBA and the Royal Town Planning Institute raised ‘serious concerns’ about the independence of proposed new Local Member Review Bodies, made up of local councillors, to hear appeals.

Now it appears the recommendation – set out in Part 9 of the Planning Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Lords – will be binned.

During the second reading of the Bill in the Lords on Tuesday night, Baroness Andrews said: ‘We have listened carefully to stakeholder views on this provision and concluded that, while it may bring some benefit, it risks distracting local authorities, particularly at a time when there is an urgent need for them to focus on strategic plans and issues.

‘We therefore intend to drop this provision at committee stage.’

The news has delighted the RIBA, which lobbied extensively to get the proposals ditched.

Anna Scott-Marshall, the institute’s head of public affairs, said: ‘We were convinced that, in the public interest, planning decisions by local planning authorities should be subject to rights of appeal by the applicant to a genuinely independent and expert body, responsible for re-examining the case on its facts, from the outset.

‘We [argued] that to establish Local Member Review Bodies [would] establish an "appeal from Caesar unto Caesar", to give local planning authorities a second bite of the planning decision-making cherry.’

She added: ‘It looks like we’ve been successful [in getting the proposals dropped].’

The Bill’s standing committee is expected to deliver the final death knell and strike out the clauses in October.

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