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What will new laws mean for the village?


The Government claims the new


Localism Bill will hand more power to locals when it comes to planning. Will the new laws deliver on that promise? Dan Hatch reports


T


he Government‘s Localism Bill has received Royal Assent and will become law from April


this year. The new Act forces neighbouring councils to


work together on things like flooding and transport, gives communities the right to draw up their own neighbourhood plan, requires councils to consult on planning applications more and reforms the community infrastructure levy paid by developers. It also abolishes the Infrastructure Planning


Commission – giving Government Ministers the power to make major planning decisions about things like new railway lines and power stations. Three Rivers District Council principal


planning officer Claire May told a public meeting last month that there was a misconception the new laws will allow communities to say no to development. She said: ―The Localism Bill introduces


Neighbourhood Planning which will enable residents, and community groups, to guide development in their area and to make provisions for more development as well as being able to decide where it should go and what it should look like. ―The onus is on communities to get together to draw up a neighbourhood plan in consultation


St Lawrence Church in Abbots Langley.


with residents and businesses in accordance with the regulations and the development plan for the area.‖ The Government claims the new laws will


empower communities, and make the planning system more democratic and effective. For instance, the Localism Act, which will


come into effect gradually by April, will allow communities to safeguard their local pub or shop from closure, using the Community Right to Bid and Buy powers. The legislation requires local authorities to


maintain lists of ―assets of community value‖ and if an asset comes up for sale, the council must allow a moratorium of six months on its sale so locals can compile a bid to take over its operation. But there‘s perhaps a hint of the conflicts to


come in the comments from Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors UK head of external affairs, Stephen Thornton. He said: ―This greater local involvement must


provide enough housing and commercial property for communities and businesses to thrive and deliver badly needed economic growth.‖


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