A major part of the Big Society debate and the new localism bill now going through parliament is the devolution of power to local communities and in particular the following changes are being proposed:


Local communities will be able to propose development, which, if it meets certain safeguards and gets 50% of support in a local referendum, will be able to built without planning permission. It is aimed at tackling lack of building in rural areas where planning authorities restrict building but local people want new housing or other facilities. Also big developments will require early consultation with local people to let them comment and collaborate on things like design - before plans are finalised. Developers would have to consider opinions raised before submitting planning applications. 


The government says the bill will stop the Planning Inspectorate being able to make changes to local plans, which guide development in areas. Instead the inspector will assess plans and will have to judge them "sound" before they can be adopted - but will only suggest changes at the request of the local authority. It also introduces "neighbourhood plans". The idea is that parish councils and "neighbourhood forums" come together to decide where new shops, offices or homes should go and what green spaces to protect - which is then voted on by local people in local referendums. They will be able to define developments, which should have automatic planning permission.


People will be able to trigger referendums on any local issue. The results will not be binding - but local authorities will have to consider them when making decisions. The government says it will help people make their views known and influence decisions.
The common thread running through these changes is the movement of decision making responsibilities to local communities, neighbourhood forums and people.  It is expected that Parish Councils will be the vehicle that facilitates and manages these responsibilities. 

However if this is this case then what is the Government doing attempting to set up Neighbourhood Planning Vanguards?  Broadland District Council discussed a report about the scheme earlier this month at a Cabinet meeting and our local Parish Councils had been asked by BDC (see below - extract from the report: Considering Expressions of Interest) to express an interest by 7th January as the CLG's deadline for receiving proposals is 14th February. A meeting is to be held on 19th January to discuss the plans with interested Parish Councils.

Considering Expressions of Interest
5.1  A letter (Appendix 2) was sent, along with a copy of the CLG guidance, to all
Parish and Town Councils in Broadland on Friday 17 December 2010. The
letter asked for Parish Councils to consider whether they would like to express
an interest in the scheme and, if so, to let the Strategic Director & Chief
Planner know, in writing, by Friday 7 January 2011.
5.2 The letter specifies that the Council will consider all expressions of interest
that are submitted by 7 January, with a view to selecting a community to work
with on a potential Vanguard Neighbourhood Plan. The Council will then
liaise with the Parish or Town Council to develop the application to CLG by
February 14 2011.
5.3 The letter also states that the District Council will consider what support it can
provide to those communities whose expressions of interest for this project
are unsuccessful, as we would not wish for these to go unheeded.

Questions need to be asked at all levels of government to ascertain what is going on and who will have the power and control of local communities.  At the moment local communities are shouting loudly and no one is listening.  Over 3,000 local residents have signed petitions saying that they are opposed to the proposed over-development in the north east Norwich Growth Triangle area - how exactly will their views be taken into consideration under the Localism Bill?


  1. The Localism Bill along with the Health Care reforms and disruption to the education system are just what we all need when the Government is broke. Yet within six months of coming to power we have all this re-organisation. You might have hoped that a good coalition would have moderated all this
    It is a charter to reinforce petty local bureaucracies which are already reviled, self serving and in some instances corrupt.
    There is no substance to these ideologically driven changes which residents have neither the time nor power to influence.

  2. Once again Broadland Council is rushing ahead with a Vanguard Scheme and we have to ask ourselves WHY? You just cannot trust this wretched Council. Was this plan discussed by the Full Council before Mr Kirby rushed into print ?

  3. I expect Reedling knows the answer to his question. It is a little clique in the Cabinet driven by officers who are pursuing a selfish agenda. They would also have had a major difficulty taking it to a full Council meeting because as we know they cancelled it. They said it would be a waste of time as there was nothing to discuss!!!!