Councils gain joint regional responsibility

Regional planning powers will be shared by council leaders' boards and regional development agencies (RDAs), the government has said.

The move, outlined in its response to the sub-national review this week, has appeased some of the soon-to-be axed regional assemblies.

Rather than transferring powers solely to RDAs, the DCLG confirmed joint arrangements for preparing single regional strategies, which will combine spatial and economic plans.

The RDAs and leaders' boards will jointly draft, implement and monitor strategies. If there are disputes or leaders' boards fail to work effectively, ministers will direct the process with RDAs leading development.

The government's response said: "Ultimately, the success of the streamlined process will depend on the leaders' boards and RDAs working together in the interests of their region."

South East England Regional Assembly chairman Paul Carter called the move "a victory for democracy". He said: "It is vital that councillors have input into strategic decisions on planning. I am pleased that the government has seen sense."

The proposals require legislation, which will be introduced in next week's Queen's Speech. It is expected to take effect in March 2010.

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