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:

I think we do. We are obviously desperate to preserve the rights to be heard. That is an important point. We are losing some rights to be heard and communities really need them. The TCPA fought for them from the 1960s onwards so that people had a right to be in the inquiry of a plan. Our planning system is very asymmetrical; the development sector is very dominant in that process.

A lot of people are sceptical about the idea of neighbourhood planning. I admit my own scepticism about it, because plans are often happening in places with more social and economic capital than others and we absolutely have to address that, but they are proving powerful—I speak as an ex-parish councillor, so I have served my time on this. Whether the statements get us over the line in creating something simple and meaningful is the challenge we want to see explored through this Bill’s progress. Will those statements actually have weight? Yes, you have to have regard to them, but what exactly will that mean in detail? Local and parish councils are denigrated, but they do have a powerful and meaningful role in the planning process.