The Localism Bill has received Royal Assent, meaning it will now pass into law as the Localism Act, but a planning expert has cast doubt on how much community influence will actually be felt as a result.
Legal firm Norton Rose partner Nigel Hewitson said the Localism Act had “the potential to lead to far-reaching changes to the planning system”, but he said some communities may lack the will or the means to capitalise on the new mechanisms in the act.
“Neighbourhood Development Plans and Orders will be costly to produce and consult on and will have to achieve more than 50% support in a [community] referendum,” said Hewitson. “Even if plans overcome these obstacles, it is a moot point how big a change of policy could be effected, given that the neighbourhood plan must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the existing development plan.
“It remains to be seen how many neighbourhoods will have the appetite — or the wherewithal — to jump through the all the hoops to put Plans and Orders in place.”