Local bodies won't override infra

Government proposals to give local people greater control over planning will not extend to nationally important infrastructure or regional strategies, the communities department has said.

Ministers are due to set out the new localism bill this week, which will signal a radical shift in planning powers, giving communities the right to create their own neighbourhood plans.

However, the government has dismissed fears the moves could result in small local groups blocking large infrastructure projects or even social housing schemes.

“It will not be a means for saying no to important growth,” a communities department statement explained.

“If major infrastructure is needed at a national level, such as a high-speed rail line, or if the strategic local plan calls for a certain number of homes to be built…the localism bill will have safeguards to ensure neighbourhood plans do not override these wider ranging plans.”

Local parishes and neighbourhood forums will draw up the neighbourhood plans, which if approved in a vote of local people will be adopted by the relevant council. Ministers claim this will speed up development of land.

There will also be incentives – such as the New Homes Bonus – for localities to support new developments in the neighbourhood plans.