Neighbourhood planning ‘is not for Nimbys’

Author: Mark Smulian, Public Finance   |  

Fears that neighbourhood planning will be a ‘Nimby charter’ are misplaced, think-tank Localis said today.

The Localism Bill proposes allowing neighbourhoods to adopt formal plans that specify the development sought in their area. This has raised fears in the property industry that community activists would use the plans to block development, and in councils that the plans would conflict with wider objectives for their area.

But in a report published today, Localis argues that neighbourhood plans could deliver a more positive attitude to planning from all involved. It says local authorities must act as ‘honest brokers’ between developers and residents and provide an overarching strategic vision for growth.

Experience from around England suggests that giving residents a stake in planning fosters greater trust in the process, it adds.

Localis chief executive Alex Thomson said: ‘Everybody has much to gain from a more open, collaborative approach to planning,’

But the think-tank warns that adequate resources are essential if neighbourhood planning is to be effective. It suggests councils should earmark part of the money they receive for permitting development – the Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus – to fund the plans.

Developers should ‘view the process as an opportunity for collaboration, and the creation of a more efficient, less confrontational planning system’, it says.

It adds that winning local trust in the planning process would be easier if central government were seen to be serious about localism, and ‘a willingness not to intervene in local planning decisions would also be welcomed’.

The report, Power to the people: the future of planning in a localist landscape, has been prepared with support from Birmingham City Council and developer Land Securities.

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