David Boulton, partner in Carter Jonas’ Northern planning division, comments: “The government has been caught between two stools - its localism agenda and the need to be pro-growth given the state of the economy – often two mutually exclusive and opposing objectives
“Localism has been sold to the public as a means of giving local communities a greater voice and indeed control over how their environment may change – but in reality it will only enable communities to change the nature of development, rather than necessarily affecting the principle of whether such should occur in the first place.
“This is a misunderstanding of the complex (and often contradictory) emotions that involvement in the planning process generates. It is compounded by reference to ‘sustainable development’ – not a new concept but one which has defied clear definition both for this and the previous government.
“In reality, I don’t see that much has changed - decisions are not being overly influenced by the drive for growth. Localism is not (and won’t be) ‘planning by referendum’ as perceived by many and the need for growth and flexibility in the planning process remains self-evident.
“Decisions will need to remain robust and able to withstand scrutiny on the relative merits/benefits of any scheme and not pushed through on a tidal wave of local support (or not) or a blind desire to allow development regardless.”