Labour having 'tricky' discussions over future of NSIP regime, says shadow planning minister

Labour's planning commission is having 'tricky' conversations about the future of the major infrastructure planning regime, including whether the existing system should stay 'intact', the party's shadow planning minister has said.

Shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods
Shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods

Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) Raynsford Review - carried out by former Labour MP Nick Raynsford - Roberta Blackman-Woods said the commission’s work would "build on" the work of the review but "not duplicate it".

Labour’s planning commission was launched at the party’s annual conference in September. Speaking then, Blackman-Woods said the commission would be tasked with delivering "a root and branch rethink of planning that will return planning to its visionary roots".

Speaking yesterday, the shadow minister said that the commission was "grappling" with "how we get community planning, local plan-making, regional plan-making and a national plan to all connect, make some sense to local people and to be accountable".

She said the commission was "having some tricky conversations around [the nationally significant infrastructure project] (NSIP) regime and whether that would stay intact".

The streamlined NSIP regime for consenting major infrastructure projects was introduced by the Planning Act 2008.

Responding to Blackman-Woods’ comments, interim TCPA chief executive Hugh Ellis, called for a "national conversation" about where major national infrastructure schemes are located.

He said that, currently, national policy statements, which are used to guide ministerial decisions on such schemes, are often out of date or uncoordinated with other policy statements produced by different government departments.

He said that these national policy statements "need to be integrated into a national sustainable development plan".

Amongst its recommendations, the Raynsford Review says that government should provide a new remit for the National Infrastructure Commission to prepare a "national sustainable development plan", a new spatial planning framework for England.

In October, Blackman-Woods said that the Labour Party wants to put communities "at the heart" of the planning process after years of "huge deregulation" and believes that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and section 106 systems "are no longer fit for purpose". 

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