Planning white paper
The government released its Planning White Paper ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future’ on 21st May 2007. The Paper signals further major changes to planning law and proposes action on recommendations put forward by the Barker Review of Land Use Planning (2006) and the Eddington Report on Transport (2006), both of which looked at the specifically economic case for widespread reform of the planning system.
There are calls for planning policy to be streamlined in an effort to reduce bureaucracy and improve the speed and efficiency of the system but the focus of reform is centred around the delivery of economic - rather than environmental - benefits.
The paper outlines a new approach to major infrastructure developments, such as nuclear power stations, airports and motorways, and looks at how planning decisions for these can be speeded up. The formation of an Independent Planning Commission to look at the impact of major developments will undoubtedly cause concern especially if the level of public participation on these is restricted. Planning permission for a range of small-scale home improvements will no longer be necessary under the White Paper.
The White Paper calls for National Parks to be statutory consultees for major infrastructure projects and also recommends that National Park purposes must be taken into account when making decisions on such developments.