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Monday, November 13, 2006
Heseltine and privatising planning
A call by Conservative Party cities taskforce chief Michael Heseltine to privatise the planning system has been slammed by planning officer representatives.

Heseltine said that he would favour the privatisation of some planning functions to speed up the system, saying that currently, public sector planning applications were often dealt with by inexperienced and overcautious staff. He said that planning consultants and surveyors could be licensed to take planning decisions, rather than planning officials.

But Planning Officers Society president Hilary Herbert said: "We do not think he should be preempting the work of Kate Barker's review. The government has also just implemented a fundamental reform of the planning framework, and this should be given time to bed down."

She added that privatising the system would remove the democratic mandate currently held by planning departments.

After the row, Heseltine appeared to backtrack, saying that he specifically meant only issues to do with listed buildings and conservation areas, not planning in general.

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