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Government Sneaks In Planning Changes

It's gone unnoticed in a hidden away section of the latest Planning Bill going through the House of Commons, but the British government plans to charge local residents 120 if they wish to appeal against decisions taken by their local council.

Local residents who currently appeal against a planning decision find that it is free with the appeal system part of the general idea that planning should be democratically accountable and accessible to all. Businesses will also face a charge for appealing against decisions on things as minor as shop signage.

Although this will help reduce vexatious users of the planning system, who can oppose pretty much anything they want, something the government is arguing to raise support, the end result will also be reducing access to those who can afford to pay. Those opposing large projects will have the necessary financial backing to do so continuing the delays that plague them but small projects that directly affect local communities will have at least some opposition chilled.

Another change the government plans is removing the powers existing Planning Inspectorate and instead having councilors from other local authorities deciding instead on appeals.

Many decisions by councilors are politically motivated thinking of playing to the prejudices of local votes in their ward rather than examining an application on its merits whilst the planning inspectorate is supposed to be an impartial body.
These changes raise the spectre of wider political maneuverings as councilors from the same political parties back the decisions of their colleagues in other districts.

A campaign by the Royal Planning Institute has been launched against the bill that would otherwise be passing through the House of Commons completely unnoticed. Whether they succeed in scuppering it remains to be seen.
Big Ben
Big Ben