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Community involvement must be at the heart of planning bill law

27 November 2008

Britain's planners today welcomed the Planning Bill's passage into law but called on the Government to set out clear statements of policy to guide decision making on nationally significant infrastructure projects and to ensure community involvement and understanding of new national planning policy on infrastructure is a top priority.

The Planning Act, which will fundamentally change the way Government plans for nationally significant infrastructure projects in England and Wales, responds to calls from The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in requiring government to set out clear statements of policy to guide decision making on nationally significant infrastructure projects, like major rail, road or power station proposals. Decisions will be made under the soon to be established Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

But, the impact of the new law on communities will depend on how new policies are prepared and how the decision making processes work in practice. Exact details of the new planning system are yet to be finalised through new regulations and guidance - but positive community engagement will ensure clarity and lack of delay.

RTPI policy director Rynd Smith today said: \"Everyone involved needs to acknowledge that the current business as usual approach to designing and approving critically important projects that will help us to cut out carbon emissions is not working. This new law will be an important step towards a more sustainable future and is critical for our nation's future. The RTPI calls on the Government to ensure that these valuable changes allow people to become more meaningfully involved, if they can help with constructing clear national policies, and participating in project hearings before people who will make the final decision.\"