The Campaign to Protect Rural England has given a warm welcome to the Coalition Government’s Localism Bill, saying it “promises to be a significant step towards devolving power to local people through neighbourhood plans and stronger powers to tackle unauthorised advertising in the countryside.”
The Bill, published by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, had it first reading in the House of Commons on Monday and Fiona Howie, head of planning at CPRE, commented yesterday:
“Getting communities more involved in shaping the future of where they live and work is vital. Many rural communities have been doing some form of neighbourhood planning for many years.
“We are pleased that provisions in the Bill should mean that their efforts will be given more weight. It is encouraging too that the Bill contains stronger powers to tackle intrusive outdoor advertising. ”
“People care deeply about where they live and, in the past, many have questioned the practicality and desirability of very high levels of development being forced on them.
“Rather than branding them NIMBYs, local councils and developers should engage with these concerns. We hope the new system will ensure that we get better decisions about the quality of development and when and where it should take place.”
But she added the proviso: “If people are really to be fully empowered, however, the reform needs to introduce safeguards. CPRE believes the introduction of a limited ‘community right of appeal’ is crucial to ensure that development is in line with the vision set out by local people. If it is not, then many may consider neighbourhood plans not to be worth the effort.”