Leading members of the Planning Officers Society met with Keith Hill MP, Minister for Housing and Planning at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, before Christmas to highlight where the new planning system needed to be reinforced. At the meeting Keith Hill welcomed the contribution of the Society to making the new system work.
The delegation was led by Paul Watson, President of POS, who said after the session at Whitehall “It was a positive and useful meeting. Looking forward we were pleased to be able to support John Prescott’s initiative for getting together the chairs of planning committees and directors of planning with the ODPM to move the new planning system on. We took the opportunity of offering the Society to act as a broker in facilitating such a forum.”
The key messages arising from the meeting include having encouraged the Minister to look at the fast tracking of householder appeals and how minor development might be codified to take the pressure off development control staff, he undertook to give these matters further consideration. The Minister also agreed to consider issuing a statement that the government would expect the additional income that should result from the planning application fee increases to be invested in planning and not diverted to other local authority services.
Graham Jones, Senior Vice President of POS, said “We value the constructive relationship we have with the Planning Minister and his officials at ODPM. We were all extremely pleased that the Minister agreed to take forward a number of the matters that we had taken the opportunity to raise with him.”
Keith Hill also reassured the Society that revisions to PPG3 would be issued in the New Year and encouraged further collaboration between the Society and his officials on the preparation of the next wave of policy statement consultation drafts. The Society officers welcomed the launch of the Planning Advisory Service and offered continuing support for its work.
The POS plans to follow up this successful meeting with another in the spring.