Planning

House of Lords written statement – made on 27th March 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Hanham Baroness Hanham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

It is with pleasure that I announce the coalition Government’s decision to revoke the regional strategies for the West Midlands, north-west and south-west.

Subject to parliamentary ratification, this completes the abolition of every regional strategy in England, thereby fulfilling an important coalition agreement objective and ushering in a new era of true localism across England. This is a milestone moment for planning and localism in this country. From now on, every local community in England will have more control over local planning and development.

The top-down approach of regional strategies from the previous Administration imposed centrally set building targets on communities and coincided with the lowest peacetime levels of housebuilding since the 1920s.

The abolition of these unpopular and counter-productive regional strategies reinforces the importance of councils’ local plans produced with the involvement of local communities, as the keystone of the planning system. It is this approach that will help deliver the homes, jobs and infrastructure we need.

The Government are also revoking the remaining, outdated county-level structure plan policies in these areas. In recognition of the importance that the coalition Government place on the green belt, the order revoking the south-west regional strategy will not revoke the safeguards around the north-east Somerset green belt known as policy 6 of the Somerset and Exmoor National Park joint structure plan. This reflects the fact that this Government are determined to protect our cherished natural and cultural heritage.

These decisions follow region-specific assessments as outlined in my Written Ministerial Statement of 25 July 2012 (Official Report, col. WS66-68). Orders giving effect to these decisions will be laid in Parliament shortly.

The reasons for the decision to revoke these regional strategies are set out in the post-adoption statement for each region, which will be placed in the Library of the House and published on the department’s website when the orders are laid in Parliament.