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Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Anyone see a Barker review coming?
Talk about planning reform is hotting up ahead of the Barker review publication.

Tony Blair has pledged to introduce a new planning bill, pre-empting the Barker report. This is despite Barker hinting in her interim report that she didn't think there should be another major shake-up of the planning system.

The government is also considering establishing an independent commission to examine major infrastructure projects including nuclear power stations, transport schemes and possibly large housing schemes.

This comes as the proposals in last week's White Paper, to remove major planning decisions from council committees to a nominated individual, received a mixed response, with the LGIU worrying that it will lead to corruption. The proposal suggests a single elected mayor or council leader could take all decisions on strategically important applications.

Meanwhile, a committee of MPs have reported on the planning gain supplement idea and said that it needs a lot more work to ensure its success, and that the government should consider a better section 106 system in tandem with the new proposals. There has been trading of comment between the parties on the fact that PGS will go to the Treasury and not local councils.

Locally controlled spending is at the heart of the Tory response, with Cameron publishing a sustainable communities bill on Friday, which proposes giving local authorities the power to decide how millions of pounds are spent. The bill has been drafted in conjunction with Local Works, a cross-party campaign for stronger local democracy. It would allow local authorities, after consulting members of the community, to work out their own alternative local spending plan and to allocate that public spending in their area in a different way.

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