Clause 89

Part of Localism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 15th February 2011.

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Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Housing) 4:00 pm, 15th February 2011

I thank my hon. Friend. As she rightly said, it will be for the Government, in celebrating the change, to explain in due course precisely how the new world will work.

This is a convenient moment to refer to delivering sustainable economic growth in the north-west, because planning at a strategic level enables places to develop in a complementary manner, and has contributed to economic renewal and regeneration. For example, it has established clear priorities, policies and actions for how the development of the more prosperous south of Greater Manchester can best support, rather than undermine, the regeneration of the northern areas of Manchester. It has also established how to develop the roles of the conurbation as a whole and of individual town and city centres in Cheshire and Lancashire, such as Warrington, which the hon. Member for Congleton referred to, as well as Chester, Preston and Liverpool.

Strategic planning has worked in the north-west to enable local authorities broadly to agree the required amount, distribution and priority locations for housing, employment land, infrastructure and types of business across the region, thereby promoting mutually reinforcing growth. A common approach to the promotion of environmental quality has improved the image of the region as a whole as a place to live, work, invest, visit and study, thus bringing real benefit to all areas in the region. I hope that the Government’s response will deal with our concern that there is no indication as to how that will satisfactorily be addressed in the Bill.

Waste policy is not the most headline-grabbing area of government, but it is one that demonstrates the clear need for strategic planning. In 2007, the east of England accepted 3.1 million tonnes of waste from London for landfill. Increasingly, each part of the region will take a share of London’s waste so that the burden does not fall entirely on the local authorities that are closest to London.

Strategic planning in the east of England has ensured that the issues of how much waste each authority will be obliged to take, and how the waste will be treated, are dealt with fairly across the whole region. Evidence from local authorities demonstrates that when dealing with a big partner such as London, individual authorities will not necessarily have the time, expertise or influence to address waste on their own as effectively as they would in some kind of strategic arrangement. Waste disposal is therefore a classic example. If there is no strategic arrangement, we might end up with demands being made of the closest local authorities to London, while other local authorities say, “Well, we do not have to play our part any longer.”

The examples that we could cite are endless. The success stories include the strategic approach to sea level rise in Lincolnshire and elsewhere. In Yorkshire and Humber, strategic planning has ensured that energy projects have been provided in the right locations. In the east midlands, green infrastructure plans are now being prepared that would not have happened without the regional push. In the south-east, through the process of spatial planning and work on the south-east plan, it was agreed where infrastructure investment should be focused in terms of hubs and spokes. The need for strategic planning, however it is achieved, is overwhelming.