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Planning bill sets regional and local planners at loggerheads

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LOCAL AUTHORITIES face conflict with new regional planning authorities to be set up following the introduction of a planning and compulsory purchase bill last week.

The bill paves the way for regional assemblies to assume responsibility for strategic planning. It received royal assent last Friday.

The resulting regional spatial strategies will set out development and infrastructure plans for large areas of the UK, covering numbers of local planning districts.

But there are fears that local planners proposing road or transport projects could find themselves in conflict with the larger scale strategic plan.

'The bill concentrates planning powers in the hands of large regional bodies and with district planners, leaving little in the way of a planning or a mediating role in the middle, ' warned Henry Oliver, head of planning and local government at pressure group the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

There are also concerns that the regional spatial strategies will impose new infrastructure or development on local authorities without consulting local communities at all.

Communities could find themselves having to fight schemes that have already been agreed in principle at a regional level and written into regional strategies, cautioned a spokesman for the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The bill also gives the government control of the planning process for infrastructure deemed of national importance.

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