Further planning changes due in Autumn Statement, says chief planner

Further planning reforms can be expected in next month's Autumn Statement, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)'s chief planner has signalled.

Chief planner Steve Quartermain speaking at yesterday's IED Conference
Chief planner Steve Quartermain speaking at yesterday's IED Conference

Steve Quartermain, chief planner at the DCLG, was speaking about how planning could contribute to economic growth at the Institute of Economic Development (IED) Annual Conference yesterday.

Quartermain said there had been new planning measures announced in every Autumn Statement and Budget since he had been chief planner. Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement is due on December 3.

"I don't think we are going to be disappointed this time," Quartermain said.

He also suggested that the government would not be encouraging the creation of city-region spatial plans, despite the Greater London Authority’s London Plan and the intention of Greater Manchester to follow suit.

Quartermain said: "You can have greater-than-local planning but you don’t necessarily have to produce a document to carry that forward.

"Local enterprise partnerships, enterprise zones and city-regions are all places where discussions about planning can take place but that does need to be done and delivered through a local plan."

The government "has no intention" of introducing another layer of city-region plans, he said.

Quartermain further spoke about the importance of neighbourhood planning to the government, saying that minsters believe it "should be the bedrock of the future planning system" and urged communities to get involved.

Elswhere, he said ministers were still keen on making it a legal duty for councils to have local plans in place but are not currently pushing forward with the proposal.

In last year's Autumn Statement, the government announced that it wanted to introduce statutory local plans.

Last month, planning minister Brandon Lewis said the government has no plans to introduce a statutory duty on local authorities to produce local plans within a set timescale, saying such a move could produce "unintended consequences".

Asked about the progress of the proposal, Quartermain said: "What's happened is that that remains the policy thinking of the government, but it's not something they are pressing forward with now."

The civil servant produced figures that he said showed how planning authorities’ decision-making on major applications had speeded up since the government introduced the 'special measures' penalty for authorities that were under-performing.

Quartermain said: "The government is committed to ensuring that the planning system is doing everything it can to drive economic growth."

The IED Annual Conference was staged in association with Planning and Placemaking Resource. It was sponsored by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, Grant Thornton, YKTO Group, Tractivity and WECD.

john.geoghegan@haymarket.com


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