Cameron announces new planning measures

06:30 20 November 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the CBI conference in London. Stefan Rousseau/PA

Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the CBI conference in London. Stefan Rousseau/PA

It was only recently the government introduced its National Planning Policy Framework in a bid to cut the red-tape developers have to deal with.

But in his speech to the CBI yesterday the prime minister announced further changes which could have far-reaching affects for big development projects.

When we were at war with Hitler we needed urgency, he explained, and that meant “normal rules were circumvented”. Now we are at war with recession the same goes, said Mr Cameron.

In terms of planning, more urgency means reining in judicial reviews; specifically the public’s ability to employ them to slow down development.

Currently a person can appeal an official decision four times, this will be cut to two. The amount of time after a decision being taken in which a judicial review can be launched will be shortened and application fees increased.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England was not impressed. Chief executive Shaun Spiers said: “Judicial review is a vital safeguard against poor quality decision-making.

“It helps prevent the sort of developments that degrade the environment and, in the long run, undermine the economy.”

From the wording of Mr Cameron’s speech it seems he might not even challenge the contention that his new measures could weaken people’s ability to fight planning decisions. Instead he argues it is currently too easy for people to hold things up.

So if a slight weakening of the excessively robust mechanism to block decisions is necessary to stimulate growth at such a moment of national emergency, his thinking goes, so be it.

But others question whether weakening the judicial review system will stimulate the economy. Adam Chapman of solicitors Kingsley Napley said judicial reviews were “a peculiar target” for a government looking to boost growth.

“It is a myth that judicial review is stopping the government from proceeding with policies to help boost the economy,” he said.

“Although there has been significant growth in the number of judicial review cases brought, the increase has been in cases about immigration and asylum - it’s nothing to do with stopping the government from taking steps to assist business.”

Even if one accepts that judicial review reform could boost growth, the question arises as to why the government didn’t tackle the issue when it released its planning policy framework earlier this year.

The UK’s economic situation is arguably no worse now than when the government released the paper. So what has changed since to merit further tinkering?

Certainly not the rate of economic growth. In fact it is the stagnation of the economy, apart from the little jump provided by the Olympics, that has shaken the prime minister into his “war-footing”.

But all great generals know wars can’t be won without popular backing and so the question is whether people will accept Mr Cameron’s “emergency measures”.

What, for example, will people like those campaigning against the King’s Lynn incinerator think? They have twice employed judicial review to challenge the waste plant near Saddlebow. Many will be Tory voters.

Indeed, some of Mr Cameron’s MPs, whose constituencies can be won or lost on planning issues, will also feel nervous after his speech.

After all, it does not look good to go around preaching about “localism” only to then circumvent the “normal rules” that protect it.


  • So much for localism bill. David Cameron says one thing and does another. He is slowly taking any rights the locals have away, roll on election day.

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    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Are you commenting on another story Daisy?, cause I can';t see anything about this story here. Cameron talks of war against red tape when he should announce a war on offshore havens and banks who sit on their money. What did party politicians ask the population to do during the Falklands war, the Iraq war and the useless ongoing war in Afghanistan? He is acting against UK interests, imho. because he has very little support in Europe for his complaints, although the pain is shared about EU contributions.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • Whilst Cameron is sounding foolish and alienating a chunk of his voters one person at least has shown some sense, Coroner William Armstrong. We are not allowed to comment on the case,the EDP has the wobbles no doubt but the EDP and the Lynn News and Advertiser did plenty of commenting at the time, if not rabble rousing,laying the blame at the feet of the roads and the Mart to the extent that it gave Lynn council the excuse to interfere with a hundreds of year old tradition of the Mart and King's Lynn and the showmen's livelihood. I welcome the commonsense decision that it is reasonable to expect parents to have children as young as three on reins in a busy place. I feel for the parents and for the poor motorist involved but everyday I see parents who need to think hard about how they supervise their small children beside busy roads and not expect the rest of the world to do it for them. The coroner perhaps grew up like me in a time when small children routinely wore safety harnesses when walking in order to allow them proper posture and freedom to walk safely in a way that hand holding does not. Of course yummy mummys no longer think further than designer clothes for their darlings so the use of reins is no longer fashionable. The Lynn News should be moderately ashamed of themselves for whipping up a fervour of sentiment about this case and for fostering ill feeling towards the Mart when local people with a bit of sense knew the traffic and pedestrian levels were not much different to forty years ago.One wonders if someone in the council saw an opportunity to cut back the Mart's time in the town and had a word in ears.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • Far reaching affects??

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    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • what planning law says and what people do and get away with are two completely different things . Recently an ariel view of southall in london exposed what looked like a shanty town in peoples back gardens in todays britain. One rule for one section of the comunity and another rule for another section

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    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • Has Cameron forgotten this is "the greenest government ever"?

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • For heavens sake Cameron grow a pair, then you can wriggle out from under the boots of those who have you by the throat.

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    Honest John

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

  • 44 million denial of server attacks interrupted some 700 companies, many defence related, still the Balfour declaration is somewhat lacking in implementation. Nov. 1917 he said this " His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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