There is much of interest in the coalition's statements on Localism and putting decision-making powers back in the hands of communities and local authorities. However, to facilitate the process, I would suggest repealing those parts of the current system of town and country planning that work against those fine principles, beginning with the following.

  • Remove the presumption in favour of development
  • Allow statutory development plans to include negatively as well as positively worded policies
  • Increase the weight attached to community opinion in the determination of planning applications and appeals
  • Overall, shift the balance of power from landowners and developers to communities and local planning authorities

This could begin to change the culture of planning in this country so that planning permission is not a right of the individual, but an endorsement by the people it will affect.

Why is this idea important?

Without these kinds of measures, the coalition will not be able to deliver its promise of Localism and people will once again feel let down and cheated by politicians. Past attempts at planning reform have amounted to window dressing, but the planning system doesn't need another new pair of curtains – it needs a new approach and new commitment.

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