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Date: 16/2/2007

The Planning Officers Society finds much to support in the Barker Report, in particular, it welcomes the:

  • proposals for simplifying and speeding up the planning process, at national and local level;
  • proposals for enhancing the status of planning within local government;
  • recognition of the need for planning to be adequately resourced;
  • support for the principle of planning and the recognition of the contribution it makes to the community’s quality of life; and
  • proposal for the provision of adequate and timely infrastructure to be more closely linked in to development.

In relation to major infrastructure projects , POS suggests the idea of an independent Planning Commission is an interesting and potentially useful one, but believes its success would depend crucially upon:

  • allowing for an adequate public input to their deliberations, so as to lend legitimacy to its outcomes;
  • providing a clear definition of its remit, which in our view should be tightly focussed on projects of genuinely national importance;
  • ensuring that local concerns do not get lost completely in the consideration of national interests; and
  • developing effective mechanisms for managing dissent within the Commission;

With regard to the Green Belt , the Society is of the view that there is a need to clarify further what Barker is seeking since the Government and local authorities already have the powers they need to review Green Belt.

With regard to the presumption in favour of development , the Society believes there could be difficult tensions between it and a plan-led system, and that it could have unintended consequences that would lead to delay and confusion. It may be largely superfluous, if the Development Plan system can be made to work as it was intended.

POS President Hilary Herbert in her letter to Kate Barker regarding her Report said “We hope our comments will be helpful and would welcome any opportunity to contribute further to what is a debate of overriding importance for the Society and its membership.”


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