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Planning Reform

Volume 543: debated on Monday 30 April 2012

Our planning reforms have simplified the system and put power into the hands of local communities to deliver the growth they need. Thanks to the excellent work of the Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), who has responsibility for planning, our reforms arrive at a balance between economic activity, the environment and heritage.

Is the Secretary of State aware of a pioneering partnership in my constituency that is getting built not only a much-needed bypass but thousands of vitally needed homes? Does he agree that this is a case of where Central Bedfordshire leads today, others should follow tomorrow?

I congratulate my hon. Friend’s authority. This was the kind of thing we wanted to do when we embarked on the reforms. None of this would have been possible without the general power of competence or devolving local authority finance. It represents the future of local authorities.

With planning applications running six times higher in the south-east than in the north-east, how does the Secretary of State envisage his planning reforms will contribute to reducing regional growth inequalities?

I am sure the hon. Lady will be pleased to know that our planning reforms were welcomed by the North East chamber of commerce, which saw, as perhaps she will come to see, that the reforms are a liberation and will enable a good partnership between local enterprise partnerships and local authorities. They will enable them to work together with people in the north-east for the people of the north-east and will release them from some of the burdens that her Government left on the people of the north-east.