Memorandum submitted by North Lincolnshire Council (PB 27)
PLANNING BILL 2007
I write in response to your consultation on the Planning Bill 2007.
The council has grave concerns that the proposals in relation to major infrastructure projects by removing them from determination by Local Planning Authorities will result in a loss of democratic accountability. The council believes that it is important that locally elected and accountable people with local knowledge take decisions on proposals that, by definition, have a major impact on their area. The council is also concerned at the lack of democratic accountability or parliamentary scrutiny over the proposed Commission, the lack of an individual's right to be heard in person, throughout the inquiry, in the proposed Commission's inquiries and generally as to how local concerns will be dealt with. If the National Policy Statements are to be prepared it is vital that local planning authorities are given a special role rather than simply being treated as ordinary consultees.
The council also objects to the proposed changes to the appeals process. It believes that applicants will no longer feel that their application has been independently assessed when an appeal has been determined by the council's own planning committee or a sub-committee. The reason advanced for this proposed change appears to be an acceptance that the Planning Inspectorate cannot cope with the current level of appeals nationally. We respectfully suggest that this is a resource issue for Government to resolve. If the Bill is not changed it will have the effect of placing much of the responsibility down at the Local authority level and councillors in particular to hear appeals against their own officers, a process which does not have the independence of the present system.
The council could not support the introduction of a fee for lodging an appeal Applicants have already paid a fee to the LPA to get a decision on their application and should not have to pay twice if it goes to appeal.