Is the Localism Act giving people more power over development in their communities?

Giving people greater control over the future development of their towns and villages is a central part of the government's Localism Act. But questions arise whether these measures are to inspire people across Norfolk and Waveney to engage with their communities– and will it give them the power they desire?

The principal localism idea has been welcomed by some campaigners and a community watchdog, but there are still concerns that the cost and time-scale of creating a plan would continue to 'alienate' people from the planning process.

According to a professor of planning, people feel they have no control over their community because they are told by planning officers that public opposition –regardless of its size– is not a legitimate planning reason to stop a proposal going ahead.

In King's Lynn, the ruling cabinet at Norfolk County Council were accused of riding roughshod over more than 65,000 people in March last year when councillors agreed to award the contract for a controversial incinerator in West Norfolk.

However, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England believes a limited third party right of appeal would instil faith back into communities amid claims that it would provide greater powers for local people to appeal decisions, and help curb the 'bullying tactics' of wealthy developers.

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At present, areas of Norfolk and Waveney have become hardened battle ground for local campaign groups trying to stop development in their communities.

Campaigners in Shipdham near Dereham have been locked in a 10-year battle over the construction of two 100-metre high wind turbines, with the saga taking a new twist at the beginning of the month when Breckland council refused planning permission.

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