Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Jonathan Owen:

It would be great if we could make it easier to set up local structures that are equivalent to parish and town councils. I would love to change the name to “community councils,” which would help to dissociate the sector from the connotations of the word “parish” and enable them better to reflect urban communities. Slimming down some of the legislation would make it easier to set that up. We would have community councillors and a community co-ordinator, otherwise known as a clerk. The clerks do a brilliant job, but they are often community co-ordinators. We obviously support the work Tony mentioned.

There has been a degree of uncertainty about neighbourhood planning over the past few years, and some people have been concerned that it is overlooked on appeal. The measures in the Bill might well help with that, and it is important to reboot and refresh the support package.

Finally, it would be good if we could boost the infrastructure levy for areas with neighbourhood plans. We are keen to work with the Government on driving greater numbers of parish and town councils to do neighbourhood plans. We share with our councils the things that have been done in so many places to tackle climate change and to promote health and wellbeing as part of the neighbourhood planning process.