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Planning: Barker Review

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Kate Barker has today published the final report of her independent review of land-use planning. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office.

Kate Barker was asked by the Chancellor and the Deputy Prime Minister in December 2005 to conduct an independent review of the land-use planning system in England. The terms of reference were to consider how, building on recent reforms, the planning system could better deliver economic growth alongside other sustainable development goals. Her interim report was published in July 2006.

Kate Barker's final report makes clear that planning is a valued and necessary activity that can deliver positive outcomes, alongside important social and environmental objectives. She is clear that, in taking forward further reforms, the importance of consultation and democratic accountability must be respected. But, within this framework, she concludes that the context for the planning system is becoming ever more challenging and therefore recommends further wide-ranging reform, building on recent changes and the plan-led approach, to ensure that the planning system supports sustainable economic growth in a global economy. We have already introduced substantial reforms to the planning system to speed up the plan-making process and, most recently, to planning for housing as a result of Kate Barker's first report. We will also shortly publish a new draft planning policy statement on climate change to help reduce carbon emissions.

The Government welcome Kate Barker's report, which we will take forward, and agree with her overall analysis. We will set out in a White Paper in spring 2007 our proposals in response to her recommendations for improving the speed, responsiveness and efficiency of land-use planning, and for taking forward Kate Barker's and Rod Eddington's proposals for reform of major infrastructure planning. In the mean time, the Government will be interested to hear responses to the report. Finally, I would like to put on record my thanks to Kate Barker and her team for their work on this review.