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Planning: Public Participation

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what funding she intends to allocate to supporting community engagement when major infrastructure projects are initiated through proposed revised planning procedures; (187769)

(2) if she will ensure that communities affected by proposals for a major infrastructure project in the East Midlands will have access to the services of the East Midlands Planning Aid Service;

(3) when she expects to announce the funding settlement for the East Midlands Planning Aid Service for 2008-09;

(4) how many people were assisted by the Planning Aid Service over the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on community engagement on planning issues;

(5) how many people were assisted by the East Midlands Planning Aid Service over the past 12 months.

As the Planning White Paper “Planning for a Sustainable Future” made clear, the Government are committed to ensuring that members of the public get the advice and support they need to get involved in the new development consent process for major infrastructure projects proposed under the Planning Bill.

During the Second Reading of the Bill on 10 December 2007, the Secretary of State announced that we would therefore put an extra £1.5 million per annum into Planning Aid, an organisation that helps members of the public and particularly hard-to-reach groups engage in the planning process.

This extra money will ensure that affected individuals and communities are supported so that they can participate effectively in the new planning process for major infrastructure projects and make their views heard.

The Government are considering the precise details of future levels of funding for Planning Aid and will make an announcement soon.

For the 12-month period from December to January 2007, Planning Aid assisted 23,575 individuals and 1,428 community groups. For the same period, the East Midlands Planning Aid service assisted 1,496 individuals and 108 community groups.