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Briefing for the Business Community

Briefing for the Business Community

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Published by SKM Colin Buchanan

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Published by: SKM Colin Buchanan on Oct 13, 2011
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 The Localism Bill was published in December 2010. It sets out a series o proposals with the objective o bringing about a substantial and lasting shit inpower away rom central government and towards local people. In terms o landuse planning or example, it proposes the abolition o Regional Plans (ormerlyknown as Regional Spatial Strategies) which set top down housing targets oreach local authority in England. The Bill includes: new reedoms and exibilities or local government; new rightsand powers or communities and individuals; reorm to make the planning systemmore democratic and more eective, and reorm to ensure that decisions aboutdevelopment are taken locally, through a new tier o Neighbourhood Planning. The Government is also in the process o replacing the multiple statements o planning policy (PPS) it has previously issued with a single simplifed NationalPlanning Policy Framework (NPPF), which places an increased emphasis onthe importance o promoting economic growth through the planning process
.Government has indicated that the proposed NPPF would replace more than1000 pages o planning advice with 52 pages.
“Businesses are a key part of our local communities,and it is right that they are able to play an active role inneighbourhood forums. Giving business owners a voicein neighbourhood planning will allow them to help set theagenda for business growth… Getting the planning systemright is crucial if we are to continue to see a private sector-led recovery, and these changes are an encouraging step inthe right direction...”
David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
Briefngor theBusiness Community
 To fnd out more:
Bill Boler
Business in the Community
E: bill.boler@bitc.org.uk T: 020 7566 8650John Pounder
SKM Colin Buchanan
E: john.pounder@globalskm.com T: 0207 053 1489 Join the Neighbourhood Planning group onLinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/aVatYm
Impact on Businesses
 As initially drated, the Localism Bill did not once mention the word ‘business’ inrelation to Neighbourhood Planning. It has since been recognised that this wasa major omission. Proposed amendments to the Bill would broaden the role o Neighbourhood Plans which could now be set up expressly or “promoting thecarrying on o trades, proessions or other businesses in such an area”, therebystrengthening the role o business in Neighbourhood Planning.Government has announced eight Business-led Neighbourhood Plan Front Runners
,which will trial the proposed new powers, and has invited bids rom local authoritieswho wish to work with business organisation(s) and/or community groups toundertake neighbourhood planning prior to the enactment o the Bill.It is clear that the changes proposed could apply and work well in a defned businesspark, industrial estate or employment area. What is not so clear is how businessesmight engage in the process in a town centre or mixed use area or other orms o communities, which include substantial residential development. The Frontrunnersshould provide some useul lessons as to how this may operate eectively.
How this may impact on your business
Neighbourhood Planning gives businesses the opportunity to help shape theuture o the localities in which they operate. Set out below are some answers toquestions you may have about the role o business in Neighbourhood Planning.Some o the answers are not known, and will only emerge as the Bill and thedesignated Front Runners progress.
Questions and AnswersWhat is a neighbourhood plan and what are the benefts o having one?
 The purpose o Neighbourhood Planning is to give local people andbusinesses greater ownership o the plans and policies which aect their localarea. The intention is to empower communities to take a proactive role inshaping the uture o the areas in which they live and work.Neighbourhood Planning has the potential to help ensure that development is inline with local needs, and provides more certainty or developers, residents andbusinesses. A neighbourhood plan would be able to identiy the specifc site orbroad location or development and speciy the orm, size, type and design.
How will businesses be involved?
In parished areas, it is the Parish Council that comprises the body responsibleor bringing orward Neighbourhood Plans and opportunities. About 35% o the population in England live in an area with a Parish Council
. In these areasbusinesses may suggest to the Parish Council that a plan should be preparedbut they will not orm part o the constituted body developing the plan. Inthese circumstances, businesses will be involved through the consultationprocess. However, they could sponsor the process, and thus have a greaterinuence in the outcome.In unparished areas a Neighbourhood Forum will need to be established topropose and develop a Plan. The Forum must write a constitution and it needsto be representative o the area it covers. Under changes to the Localism Bill, itshould constitute a minimum o 21 people. Business interests can and shouldbe represented on the Forum, which may even be business-led.
SKM Colin Buchanan
What is a neighbourhood?
 There appear to be no fxed defnitions, as the amendments to the LocalismBill would seem to encourage the preparation o neighbourhood plans orindustrial estates and town centres as well as or predominantly residentialareas. Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Forums are ree to defnetheir own neighbourhood boundaries, subject to approval rom the Local Authority.
How do businesses currently collectively engage inPlanning
Under the present planning system most businesses only engage with theplanning system when they wish to build a new or extend existing premisesor acilities. All businesses have the opportunity to participate in the localplan process through public consultation events and ormal representationson proposed planning policies. However, at present most engagementwith local planning occurs through representative or umbrella bodies suchas local business partnerships, chambers o commerce, and BusinessImprovement Districts (BIDs). 
Will business be engaged in Neighbourhood Planning i they do not orm part o the Neighbourhood Forum?
 Yes – the HM Treasury / BIS ‘Plan or Growth
’ states that the Governmentwill set out clear requirements or any Neighbourhood Forum or ParishCouncil to consult and engage local business and take into account theirviews in preparing Neighbourhood Plans. Neighbourhood Plans will only beadopted i they ft with the national and local planning policy, and they showthat they have considered representations rom everyone with an interest inthe area, including business.
Who would represent business in the process?
 The Government is not prescriptive as to how businesses should berepresented in the process. It is up to business to decide how they shouldbecome involved by engaging with the relevant Forum or Parish Council. This could be through a Traders Association or Town Centre Manager orexample. National companies will need to decide whether they should berepresented by the local ofce / store manager, or whether a co-ordinatedapproach through Regional ofce or HQ is needed.
SKM Colin Buchanan

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