Argent’s co-founder, Peter Freeman, set out in Property Week how Localism isn’t delivering the benefits it should and how to address this. He identified the reluctance of Local Planning Authorities to embrace their Duty to Co-operate, politicians preferring to lose applications at appeal to pass responsibility for unpopular developments to the Planning Inspectorate, and the negative views formed by communities due to a lack of good quality, large schemes.
His solutions include harnessing local knowledge, defining what ‘local’ means, making more expertise available to communities, and providing greater powers to Local Enterprise Partnerships for planning.
Looking at the situation from our public affairs perspective, promoters of housing schemes should go beyond their consenting authority and leverage the support of councillors and officers across district boundaries, encouraging the formation of cross boundary committees or working groups for major developments, taking co-operation beyond the formation of the Local Plan.
To reduce the domination of a single use in an application, detailed discussions need to be had with communities about what they’d like to see provided, within the realms of possibility of course!
Educating communities on producing neighbourhood plans has been left to local authorities. However planning consultancies, large and small, should contribute to this process, in the same way many legal practices provide their time pro bono, this support could be quite easily developed into a CSR programme rather than just a straight forward commercial service. While those promoting development find themselves at odds with sections of the community, to shape opinion you have to be part of the conversation.