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New Clause 14 — Expenditure of Greater London Authority on housing or regeneration

Part of Infrastructure Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 26th January 2015.

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Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 7:00 pm, 26th January 2015

I very much welcome the Minister’s important intervention, and we look forward to that new guidance.

The Planning Inspectorate is meant to stand in the shoes of Ministers. I submit that Ministers could stand in their own shoes and take decisions themselves if they had to interfere. That would perhaps deal with at least some of the £40 million budget and 80 staff of the Planning Inspectorate.

My second proposal is that we redress the imbalance whereby communities do not have a right of appeal against planning decisions but developers do. How can that be proper or fair? To redress that inequity, communities should be given a limited right of appeal against planning decisions that run contrary to the local plan or emerging neighbourhood plan. There would be conditions attached to that, but it would be a means of restoring trust and accountability and it would show that Parliament means what it says. When we set out to give local communities the right to make decisions, and when we say that we will give people local power, we should mean it. It is not good enough for bureaucratic bodies—in the main, we are pledged to abolish or reduce such bodies—to get in the way of that power and take decisions that should be made by local people.