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

It is a shame. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has ever served as a councillor, but if he had, he would have seen that such organisations coming together in often fluctuating and informal voluntary partnerships have a big impact. They are the lifeblood of how a lot of sub-regional things work.

Nobody has asked what the test of soundness will be for the new local plans. I do not know what the new LEP tests of soundness will be, but I suspect one may be conformity with the national planning policy framework. I would be very surprised if being closely related to the neighbouring plan was not a test of soundness. In other words, it would be continuing the test of cross-border spatial planning and the spatial integrity of the current planning system. Nobody wants to see, for want of a better example, a road stop at a district or county barrier because the people on the other side do not want it to continue.

LEPs can be built into how the plans are put together. The hon. Gentleman spent a lot of time talking about the duty to co-operate; he laboured that point. Going to the wall for any further detail does not move me one way or the other. The proposals do the job perfectly as they are.

The last point was about how all the environmental constraints and enhancements will be recognised. They will be recognised, of course, by being included as part of the national planning framework, and as part of the policy to which local plans will have to have regard, but there is absolutely no reason why there should not be flexibility.

A good example is local transport. I have in the village in which I live a bus stop and a bus. People may catch the bus at 10 o’clock on Friday, provided they come back on the same bus at 2 o’clock on Friday. It is nonsense to compare the sustainability of public transport in a rural area such as mine with that of Kensington and Chelsea. There has to be some flexibility in how services are delivered, and how the balance is reached on important cross-cutting themes such as environmental constraints and reducing CO2 emissions.