Framework schedule set

A national planning framework will be issued by April 2012, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said in his department's four-year business plan.

The framework would be "radically simplified and consolidated with a strong presumption in favour of sustainable development". It will replace the detailed regional plans, which the coalition has abolished, but be less prescriptive.

Pickles said he intends to turn government inside out, pushing power down to the lowest level. Other steps include creating elected mayors in 12 major cities, with a significant transfer of power to areas that opt for this.

A single list of data that councils must supply to Whitehall, replacing the numerous separate reporting streams now in force, will be issued by April 2012.

The DfT business plan stresses support for the High Speed 2 link from London to Birmingham and later to northern England as helping to "radically reshape economic geography and bridge the north-south divide".

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