The Localism Bill|
1. The Localism Bill will devolve powers to councils
and neighbourhoods and aims to give local communities more control
over housing and planning decisions. It includes measures to reform
the planning system, the provision of housing and a range of local
authority governance issues. The Bill will abolish Regional Spatial
Strategies (which set a regional-level planning framework for
England) and will establish neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood
development orders, by which it is intended that communities will
be able to influence council policies and development in their
2. The Government intends to introduce a 'presumption
in favour of sustainable development' as set out in the Conservative
Party's 2010 Green Paper 'Open Source Planning' and then in the
The presumption is that:
[...] individuals and businesses have the right to
build homes and other local buildings provided that they conform
to national environmental, architectural, economic and social
standards, conform with the local plan, and pay a tariff that
compensates the community for loss of amenity and costs of additional
The presumption does not feature in the Localism
Bill, although it will be included in a new overarching Government
planning policy document, the National Planning Policy Framework.
3. The Communities and Local Government Committee
has undertaken inquires on the Government's localism agenda and
the abolition of regional spatial strategies.
Both inquiries have received evidence about potential adverse
impacts from the Government's planning proposals on the environment.
The Localism Bill Committee, which finished its consideration
of the Bill on 10 March, received similar evidence that highlighted
problems with the accessibility and fairness of the proposed neighbourhood
planning process and the presumption in favour of sustainable
development. An opposition
amendment was debated in the Localism Bill Committee to address
these concerns. The amendment was withdrawn following a Government
commitment to address these issues at a later stage.
4. In our First Report of this Session we committed
ourselves to scrutinising the extent to which sustainable development
is embedded in the policy making of all departments across Government.
Subsequently, in Mainstreaming Sustainable Development,
the Government has set out its vision of how it will do this,
and this short inquiry is an early test of this.
5. In light of the scope of the inquiry by the Communities
and Local Government Committee and the evidence received by the
Localism Bill Committee, we took evidence specifically on the
planning issues affecting local government. On 16 February we
took evidence from Friends of the Earth, Campaign to Protect Rural
England, Town and Country Planning Association and officials from
the Department for Communities and Local Government on the extent
to which sustainable development is embedded in the Government's
planning reforms in the Localism Bill.
We would like to thank all those who gave evidence.
1 Localism Bill [Bill 126 (2010-11)] Back
HM Government, The Coalition: our programme for government,
May 2010 Back
Conservative Party, Open source planning, 2010 Back
Communities and Local Government Committee inquiries into Localism
and Abolition of regional spatial strategies Back
Written evidence for Communities and Local Government inquiries
into Localism and Abolition of regional spatial strategies
The associated memoranda are available on the Localism Bill Parliament
PBC Deb, Localism Bill, 15 February 2011 Back
Defra, Mainstreaming Sustainable Development, February
Ev 1-21 Back