At the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE’s) prestigious annual lecture, Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark acknowledged the CPRE’s long held belief that communities should be at the heart of planning.
Neighbourhood planning can achieve this and bring about sustainable growth by allowing communities to decide what their area should look like, where new shops, offices or homes should go and what green spaces should be protected.
Communities will be central to deciding the shape of their local area under wide ranging reforms going through Parliament in the Localism Bill. Local people will have a powerful new right through neighbourhood planning to help ensure development is well sited, well designed, locally supported and in line with the right environmental standards.
Mr Clark encouraged CPRE members to use their experience and expertise to help enthuse and inspire communities about the new opportunities that will be opening up for them through the Localism Bill.
Mr Clark said:
“Our built environment has been a source of incalculable pleasure and benefit for generations. In rural areas, the interplay of natural beauty and human stewardship has made this country’s landscapes the envy of the world.
“I am in favour of, and want to see more of, properly planned, properly managed, locally-supported growth - well sited, well designed; meeting the right environmental standards; and in tune with what local people want.
“Neighbourhood planning will be a radical new means for people to influence growth and shape the look and feel of the places where they live. Voluntary and community groups such as the CPRE, with their understanding of the grass roots, could play a vital role in enthusing, informing and inspiring local communities about the new opportunities that will be opening up for them.”
Shaun Spiers, CPRE’s Chief Executive, said:
“Empowering local communities to shape the places where they live should be a central part of the new planning system. CPRE has championed local involvement in planning for many years, so we welcome the aspirations that underpin the Localism Bill.
“As the Bill progresses we want to work with the government to ensure that local and neighbourhood plans deliver truly sustainable development that meets local needs.”
The government also intends to back up its commitment to protect the green belt by bringing in new designations that will allow local people to nominate green areas they want to protect while enabling sustainable development to continue. Proposals for how the new designations may work will be put to Parliament soon.