The Manifestos - the POS view
The Conservatives say the most about planning - their manifesto includes a précis of their recent Green Paper but it omits the proposals to introduce third party appeals and to allow any building to be used as a school without planning permission. Although we have concerns about some of their ideas, the Planning Officers Society is keen to work with the Conservatives to refine and road test their ideas. At the first meeting of the sounding board they have set up I was pleased to hear Bob Neil confirm that they now anticipate evolutionary changes to the LDF system and CIL rather than starting from scratch.
There are fewer specific references to planning in the Labour and Lib-Dem manifestos - not surprising in the Labour case, given the radical changes already made. POS welcomes Labour's pledge to issue strengthened guidance to protect viable shops, pubs and community facilities against change of use or demolition. Like the Conservatives, Labour include a commitment to a new high speed rail line and more controversially, promise to make an early decision on options for a tidal energy project in the Severn Estuary. POS would welcome the opportunity to consolidate the 2004 and 2008 Act changes, should Labour win another term.
Given the strong possibility of a hung parliament the Liberal Democrats' proposals may be very significant, particularly where they match those of another party. Like the Conservatives, they would abolish the IPC, scrap regional housing targets, prevent a third runway at Heathrow and stop garden grabbing. They also make a specific commitment to third party appeals - not an idea that POS welcomes. The Liberal Democrats part company with Labour and the Conservatives over nuclear power, which they reject and in making a specific commitment to road pricing. Like Labour, they propose changes to housing finance to allow more council house building. POS has doubts about some of the Liberal Democrat's proposals and some require further work - we would be happy to assist with this.
David Hackforth, President, Planning Officers Society