Partnership doubts grow

Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) as planning bodies following publication of the local growth white paper.

The government has announced its approval of 24 of the 62 applications for LEPs. The document also sets out how the functions of regional development agencies will be transferred and confirms a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Winkworth Sherwood partner Nicola Raistrick argued that LEPs are unlikely to get developers excited as they have no statutory role in the planning process. "With no teeth in moving forward development, businesses are unlikely to engage with them in any meaningful way," she said.

But CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said the paper provides clarity. "Business has been sceptical because of the lack of detail about the LEPs' role. The government appears to have responded to the concerns."

Earlier this week, the national press revealed that a leaked letter by business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk to business secretary Vince Cable had expressed business leaders' concerns that LEPs would fail to help economic growth.

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