Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Controversial new developments will be bulldozed through warn Conservatives

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has criticised new laws coming into effect that are transferring powers over planning from local councils to regional bureaucrats. He warned that this could allow controversial new developments to be dumped in Hertfordshire, irrespective of the wishes of local people.

    The Government announced on 17 June the timetable for the implementation of the new Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. The legislation will transfer planning powers to the self-styled ?East of England regional assembly?, allowing it to create a ?Regional Spatial Strategy? for housebuilding, transport and planning that will be binding on local councils – and in turn county councils? Structure Plans will be abolished.

    Peter Lilley said: “The Labour Government hasn?t listened to the overwhelming public concern about its changes to the planning process. It is taking power from local councillors who are answerable to local people via the ballot box, and transferring responsibility to distant and unaccountable regional bureaucrats.

    “The Government?s real agenda is to bypass the say of local people in Hertfordshire, and bulldoze through controversial developments like airports and runways and sprawling housing estates on green field sites.

    “Regional planning is too distant ever to be properly accountable and legitimate. The Conservative Party would scrap these unnecessary and expensive tiers of bureaucracy and hand the powers back to local communities.?

    Notes to Editors

    A timetable for the implementation of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 was announced on 17 June.


    Liberal Democrats also support regional assemblies controlling planning. Liberal Democrats? proposals for regional government (Don Foster, Empowering the People: Plans for Strong Regional Government, February 2002), involve ?spatial planning (including housing numbers)? being decided at a distant regional level, not a local level (p.4). Don Foster, their housing spokesman, has added, ?regional conferences, and ultimately regional government, must have the last word on housebuilding and development? (Don Foster, Liberal Democrat press release, 6 February 2001).