Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:56 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Dr Ellis:

The primacy of the local plan is really important. We are very worried about the relationship with national development policies and whether that masks a centralising tendency. Local and neighbourhood plans are so important in giving certainty to communities. As is often the case, we are making some changes to the process of planning reform—that is nothing new—but the fundamental issue is about resources. Most people who talk to us about planning and the delivery of local plans would say, “Well, if we had more resources we could deliver them more quickly, and if we had more certainty we could also do that.” So we should not get too hung up about changing the law.

We have divided the local plan into several pieces now through this Bill: we have said there is a local plan, then a supplementary plan, and then a strategic plan, and two of those are voluntary and one is not. In that sense, we have created that framework. The answer is that it all depends: it depends on resources and on how much power the Secretary of State wants to take to the centre on the content of local plans. We have an honest concern that if you want to rebuild public trust, you need to handle those powers with extreme caution.