CPRE calls for urgent changes to levelling-up bill
CPRE today warned that National Development Management Policies, part of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill currently going through parliament, are a ‘power grab’ by central government without any safeguards for local voices.
Commenting on last night’s Lords Committee stage debate of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Tom Fyans, interim CEO of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
‘The government has yet again ignored heartfelt concerns, expressed by Peers from across the political spectrum, that local democracy will be trashed by planning reforms making their way through Parliament.
‘National Development Management Policies are a cleverly disguised power grab by central government. The secretary of state would be granted the extraordinary right to override any local plan, without the legal safeguards of consultation or parliamentary scrutiny. This is a full-on attack on local democracy.
‘CPRE has been pushing for much-needed amendments to the Bill to avoid this potentially disastrous outcome. But yet again, ministers have ducked their responsibility to ensure local communities have a strong voice in the planning system, despite previous assurances the undemocratic effect was unintentional. The government’s refusal to heed the warnings of peers during last night’s debate, including Conservative peers, is deeply worrying.
‘NDMPs will mean government Ministers have more say over what happens on a person’s street than their locally elected councillors. This is the polar opposite of what had been promised in the Levelling Up Bill. Local plans should be the chief factor in deciding planning applications because they give local people and our elected representatives power.
‘Baroness Scott of Bybrook, the DLUHC Minister responding in the debate last night on behalf of the government, didn’t give an inch. She refused to budge on these polarising and deeply unpopular policies that would tear the democratic heart out of the planning system. The government must listen to cross party concerns and introduce changes to the Levelling Up Bill before it’s too late.’