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President's Piece December 2015

Date: 21/12/2015

The Society President's latest blog:

"Good tidings to all planners and those working up to and especially over the festive period keeping the vitally important planning and development flag flying. So we reach the end of 2015 and before we all head off to share gifts, be merry and be with our family and loved ones over Christmas let us give a brief moment to reflect on this closing year's highlights and what lies in store for us all in the New Year.

POS members enjoyed an excellent round of Forums with much enlightenment in an exciting year of Government elections, more changes and relentless reforms to the UK planning system. Keeping ahead of the legislative curve has become nearly a full time pursuit with DCLG and HM Treasury! Post May Elections and the surprise return of a Conservative majority government we all stood in anticipation at our June POS Annual Conference in delightful Dorchester, hosted by our revered outgoing President, David Evans. Our Chairman, Mike Kiely was on the move too and even greater things as re-elected Chair of POS and moves to North London planning. I, myself, took on the  presidency, for which I was much honoured and humbled, knowing this would be one of the greatest challenging years facing planning for half a century.

The Housing and Planning Bill was launched (we still await the details in the imminent Regulations). Starter Homes and Housing Association Right to Buy will turn the housing market and planning system upside down when we need 400,000 new homes. Permitted Development Rights became mostly permanent or extended. The offices to residential PDR continues to exercise many local planning authorities as they rush out their Article 4 directions to save their local economies. But good news as the Chancellor's Autumn Statement announced devolution of business rates and greater devolution to cities, mayors and Great Northern Power House. Go for it Manchester and Northern leading lights!

So, we have much to do in 2016 keeping ahead of the planning reform agenda. Critically and constructively challenging Government and decision makers of getting the right approach and outcomes for the planning system which is a force of good and sustainability for our green and cherished land. On that note, take a moment for local government planners facing sweeping new round of financial cuts and a raft of liberalised planning reforms. Let's take some cheer from what will be the most exciting year ahead and all to play for in 2016. A very Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year to all Planners and your families. See you in the 2016 in fighting form!"

"Festive best wishes."

Stewart Murray, President 2015/16

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