Memorandum by Surrey Local Government
Association (PGP 16)
PLANNING GREEN PAPER AND ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTS
Your Committee invited submissions on the Planning
Green Paper by 18 March, and you asked that we should not simply
repeat the response we gave to the consultation, as you would
receive it in any event.
We have really nothing significant to add to
our response to Government, which was fairly full. However, I
would like to draw the attention of the members of your Committee
to our very strong and fundamental concerns of principle which
run through the whole Green Paper.
We set these out in section two of our response
"(a) We understand the Government's
desire to simplify and clarify the planning process. However we
have to ask whether this Green Paper is in part a response to
some specific problems with major national projects. We question
whether the complete overhaul proposed in the Green Paper is in
fact necessary and whether the end might not be achieved by refocusing
and sharpening the existing structures and processes. The structures
in the Green Paper do not seem to be any simpler than those which
already existon closer examination for example, there will
in practice be at least as many tiers of plans as at present.
(b) We are greatly concerned by the erosion
of local democratic accountability which (despite a declared intention
to increase community involvement) runs like a thread through
the Paperfrom the process for preparing regional and subregional
plans, to the binding inspectors' decisions, to the proposals
that 90 per cent of planning decisions should be made by officers
under delegated powers.
(c) The Green Paper makes a fundamental error
in not recognising that it is simply not possible to have both
greater speed in the planning process and greater public involvement
in it. Furthermore any attempt to speed up the process at the
expense of community involvement will simply lead to erosion of
confidence in the system. This in turn will inevitably lengthen
processes through legal challenge or other forms of direct action.
In addition this quest for speed seems to us to be in danger of
(d) The proposals do not appear to us sufficiently
to recognize the difficulties of handling such issues as housing
allocations, economic development, airports, road and rail provision
and sustainability issues such as waste and green belt provision
in a region as large and as complex as the South East. It is essential
for all the main tiers of local Government to work together and
share responsibility for the policy making process within the
local development frameworks."
I do hope your Committee will be able to consider
these points as we believe them to be of such fundamental importance.
Councillor David Davis
15 March 2002