Clause 89

Part of Localism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 15th February 2011.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 5:00 pm, 15th February 2011

There is no draft. Of course there are people outside whom we are consulting and who have volunteered to help us with this process, but there is no draft. Those people have seen no more than the members of the Committee have.

The draft will be produced. I sincerely hope that the drafting process will run parallel to the Bill, because I do not want a sequential activity whereby we have a Bill and then we have to wait another 18 months for the NPPF to come out. It is in my interests and it is my desire as much as that of Opposition Members to get the NPPF out as quickly as possible for consultation with the largest possible number of organisations. To stress the legitimacy of this process, we have said that we will publish and present to Parliament the NPPF and that Parliament will have a vote on it.

I turn to sub-regional co-operation. I was confused during the speech by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington as to whether he was talking about regional or sub-regional co-operation. The terms seemed to flow in and out of each other without any real definition of what they were. One of the groups he mentioned was the Royal Town Planning Institute, which commented on the issue. His comments were at variance with my experience of the RTPI and my discussions with its representatives on this subject. There seems to be close agreement on this.

There are strong natural economic areas that will, through the local economic partnerships, be able to channel investment across the partnership area if that is what the partnerships want to do. Each local planning authority will no doubt want to give expression in its local plans to what has been agreed with others in the partnership.

The hon. Gentleman will have read in my thin tome “Open Source Planning”—it is only 30 pages—that I am a great fan of the old county structure plans. They were a very good way of providing an overview, and in “Open Source Planning” I encouraged upper-tier authorities and unitary authorities to look at such plans. I suspect that that has not fallen on deaf ears and that counties, unitary authorities or local economic partnerships will want to take up that role. I see no reason why that role needs to be statutory for different authorities to come together and co-operate.