Neighbourhood planning powers come into law

5 Apr 12
Local communities today received planning powers as the latest part of the Localism Act came into force.
By Richard Johnstone | 6 April 2012

Local communities today received planning powers as the latest part of the Localism Act came into force.
Park Photo: Alamy

The power gives local people the right to decide what types of developments can take place in their areas through formally agreed neighbourhood plans.

Backed with the community right to build, these will allow local groups to go ahead with agreed developments with minimal red tape.

The neighbourhood plans will need to be supported by local authorities and approved by local referendums. They will then have a formal status in the government’s new National Planning Policy Framework.

More than 200 projects have already trialled the powers, described by
local government minister Greg Clark as ‘a major turning point in the balance of power in this country as new rights and freedoms for communities to take back control come into force’.

He added: ‘The historic Localism Act is beginning to reverse more than 100 years of centralisation, returning power back to citizens, communities and local groups to manage their own affairs free from Whitehall interference.

‘These powerful reforms are the next step in breaking up the monopoly of Whitehall over public services, giving local people with good ideas the right of initiative to do things differently.’

Among the reforms already introduced by the Act, which received Royal Assent last November  is the General Power of Competence for local authorities, which means councils can innovate and legally do anything an individual could do unless specifically prohibited by law.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell added: ‘The government's historic mission to put communities back in control gathers pace today as more and more of the Localism Act comes into effect.

‘Instead of putting barriers in the way of communities we are actively taking them away, wiping out interferences, cutting red tape and giving people the power to shape the future of their local area. As this revolution in local power rolls on, communities can be confident that they are truly at the heart of decision making.’

Provisions in the Localism Act have been introduced in tranches through commencement orders. The planning power is the fourth to come into force.

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