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Localism bill threatens new delays to planning consents

13 September 2011

The Localism Bill expected to come before the House of Lords this week, has been criticised for its referendum provision by representatives of British commerce, home builders and infrastructure providers. In a letter published in the Times, they point out that any planning application could be subject to 18 months worth of delays whilst a petition is gathered and then a referendum called of the local population on its merit. With current planning processes making full allowance for community consultation, they are concerned that the proposed changes will threaten investment in housing and infrastructure.

Our Principal ecologist, Simon Colenutt, comments that: "The existing planning procedures are more than adequate to protect ecology at development sites. It is the inconsistent diligence applied to planning processes and developments by some authorities which should be addressed."

The full text of the letter to the Times is as follows:

The Times
3 Thomas More Square,
United Kingdom

9th  September 2011

Planning and Referendums

Dear Sirs,

This week we expect the House of Lords to consider those Clauses in the Localism Bill which deal with the holding of local referendums.

As representatives of the business, housing, energy, retail and waste sectors we urge members of the House of the Lords to vote to exclude planning from the scope of the proposed new referendums.

The UK needs growth, and for growth and employment to flourish, developers and investors need confidence.

Under current proposals each and every planning application, in whatever form of development, could be subject to 18 months worth of delays whilst a petition is gathered and then a referendum called of the local population on its merit.

The UK has a well-established, quasi-judicial planning system, which makes full allowance for community engagement and consultation, officer advice, and then decision by elected representatives.

We are fully committed to community consultation as part of the planning process, but the changes to these procedures posited by the referendum provisions in the Localism Bill risk delaying and jeopardizing much needed investment in infrastructure and housing. They are also unnecessary in view of the extensive consultation that already takes place.

On behalf of our thousands of members seeking to drive forward the UK's growth and investment, we urge the Government to exempt planning from referendums to help ensure the UK retains a positive climate for business investment.


Dr. Adam Marshall, British Chambers of Commerce
John Slaughter, Home Builders Federation
Michael Green, British Council of Shopping Centres
Tony Glover, Energy Networks Association
Barry Dennis, Environmental Services Association
Charles Anglin, RenewableUK

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