Levelling Up scheme will see changes planning application process

By Amy Hetherington   |   Reporter   |
Friday 5th August 2022 9:16 am
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Milton Abbot, which now has its own Neighbourhood Plan to protect it from unwanted development. ()

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Reforms to the planning process as part of the Government’s Levelling Up scheme could benefit smaller communities such as Okehampton and Tavistock, said town councillor Tony Leech.

The reforms were set forward in this year’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which proposed to simplify the planning process and give communities a greater say on the building developments going on in their town.

Cllr Leech said: ‘When it comes to smaller communities, smaller parishes, everybody is pushing for a neighbourhood plan. The planning systems would be streamlined and completely digital, not the massive amount of paperwork we have at the moment.

‘But also communities can do a street vote so that residents can actually vote on whether it’s a good idea, keeping it very local. They would not have to go through the whole neighbourhood planning process.’

As well as offering more opportunities for residents to get involved in the decision-making, the bill also proposes that more weight be given to local plans when considering applications and the implementation of systems designed to speed up the process including a re-organisation of information, digitalisation of documents and the introduction of a new policy allowing local authorities to produce supplementary plans (documents which give advice to those putting in an application) in time-sensitive cases.

The bill follows on from a white paper, released in February of this year which explained the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and how it planned to increase opportunities for people in less well-off areas of the country.

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