The first plenary session included presentations from Steve Quartermain, Chief Planner at CLG, Leonie Oliva from Drivers Jonas Deloitte and Liz Peace of the BPF giving their opinions on localism and growth.
Steve Quartermain started the session with an overview of planning reforms in 10 minutes and one slide! Addressing delegates he stated that young planners must be more postive as “young planners are the chief planners of the future”.
Leonie Oliva gave a useful overview on how growth is being delivered post NPPF and localism. She gave examples of case law where “localism” has been overruled in favour of growth, and another example (Atterbury, Oxon) where poor design standards led to the rejection of a housing proposal – economic concerns do not always trump other considerations.
Liz Peace introduced a “stagnation to growth” barometer, concluding that while the Localism agenda had the potential to lead to stagnation, the NPPF is much more likely to deliver growth. She highlighted the changing doctrine behind Localsim which, prior to the most recent general election, was presented as a “Big Society” initiative to remove top-town bureaucracy; however, it has since been re-branded as a tool to generate economic growth.
The following panel debate explored how “rogue” local authorities should be dealt with concluding that there is no excuse for not delivering local plans. Steve Quartermain was quizzed on whether the latest reforms mark the death of localism, to which he responded that it is not where the local plan is being delivered, which is crucial to local democracy. Questions were also taken by Ben Rogers from Centre for London, the influential think tank.