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Infrastructure Projects

Volume 537: debated on Monday 5 December 2011

Under the major infrastructure regime, applicants are required to consult the community before a planning application can be accepted. The Localism Act 2011 will extend this requirement to applications to local authorities.

I thank the Minister for that reply and for outlining the consultation process that local authorities should follow. Will he instruct Calderdale council to hold a full consultation on the future of Halifax central library so that the thousands of local people objecting to its proposals can have their say?

I know that the hon. Lady has taken a great interest in the library. I cannot comment on particular applications but she will understand from my comments that I consider it important that all applicants, especially on issues of major importance, should engage with the community from the outset. That is good practice in this country and across the continent, and it is why the Localism Act will make it a requirement.

Will the Minister consider giving parish councils a far stronger voice in the representation of local people and in commenting on major infrastructure planning applications?

My hon. Friend will know that one of the most important parts of the regime is the requirement for major infrastructure applications to demonstrate that consultation with the community has taken place? That is why we are extending some of those provisions to the local authority regime.