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PR 39 - Government makes right move on planning appeals

26 June 2008

An indication from Government that it will not pursue the introduction of Local Member Review Bodies (LMRBs) through the Planning Bill demonstrates that it is actively listening to the concerns of the sector, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

In reference to LMRBs, Housing Minister Caroline Flint told Parliament during the Planning Bill debate that; \"We need to consider whether, given the large number of planning reforms that we are asking local planning authorities to implement, it is also right to ask them to focus on the initiative.\"

The Planning Bill proposes the creation of LMRBs to hear local residents' appeals against planning permission refusals, a function that is currently carried out by the Planning Inspectorate. After consulting widely with its members the RTPI advised the Government that introducing LMRBs would put significant strain on the resources of local authorities. It would also endanger the independence and impartiality of the appeals process because it would effectively mean that appeals would be heard by the same body which rejected the original application.  

RTPI Secretary General Robert Upton said: \"We are pleased the government has listened to the concerns of the sector and shown a willingness to reassess the introduction of Local Member Review Bodies. It is our view that, while well intentioned, the introduction of LMRBs would present real practical difficulties for local authorities who would have to find extra resources to administer the appeals process. We were also concerned that the proposed system had the potential to compromise the independence and impartiality of the appeals process and undermine public confidence in the planning system. The indication from the Minister that the government will not pursue LMRBs is very welcome and we are confident that the prospect of their introduction will be extinguished before the Planning Bill reaches the Lords.\"

The RTPI also welcomes amendments to the Planning Bill reflecting the RTPI's advice to Ministers which will make key National Policy Statements on airports and nuclear power stations locationally specific and subject the Infrastructure Planning Commission and its commissioners to parliamentary scrutiny.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479 dale.atkinson@rtpi.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

For more information on the RTPI's LMRB campaign please click here

The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at: www.rtpi.org.uk

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