Telegraph Front Page-Now even national parks are at risk #NPPF


Restrictions on building in some of the most beautiful parts of the country could be relaxed under new Government plans, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Last night, Labour said Government’s plans to introduce give national parks authorities a new duty of “sustainable development” to could give developers a “licence to build” on some of the most pristine and stunning parts of England.
England has 10 National Parks – most protected under law dating back to the early 1950s – covering nearly 5,000 square miles of the most beautiful countryside in the world, including Exmoor, the Peak District, Dartmoor, the New Forest and the Lake District.
Each park is run by its own National Park Authority, which has two statutory duties – to conserve the countryside and its wildlife, and to allow people to enjoy it.
Now ministers want to add a third duty – to “facilitate sustainable development” which campaigners say could require the parks’ authorities to allow more building.
Pressure is growing on parks authorities to find other sources of income after their funding was cut in last year’s spending review, leading to concerns that many could encourage more development to bring in extra income.
According to a business plan published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ministers will “consult on whether the legislation for National Parks Authorities needs to better reflect their role in facilitating sustainable development”.
The consultation about the changes to the National Parks guidance is due to be launched next month and run to March 2012.
It was first recommended by the Government’s rural communities’ advisers in June last year which recommended that it may be “appropriate to change the legislation to reflect the importance of sustainable development” in the Parks’ core duties.
The advisers said that by giving National Parks this third purpose it would mean that they are “expected to deliver socio-economic benefits when pursuing their purposes”.
Labour said there were fears that this change could “open the flood gates to more development in our national parks” and showed how ministers were “hopelessly out of touch with people who care about our National Parks”.
Mary Creagh, the shadow Environment secretary, said: “This latest consultation, imposing a duty on the Parks to promote the now infamous and ill-defined ‘sustainable development’, could lead to a licence to build on our National Parks.”
Emma Marrington, a spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, added: “It’s almost beyond belief that they could consider giving National Parks a statutory purpose for sustainable development – these are the jewels in the crown of the English countryside.”
There are currently 55 pages of planning guidance to protect National Parks.
These are being replaced with a single paragraph in the controversial new draft National Planning Policy Framework, which has been criticised by campaigners for biasing planning rules in favour of builders.
The NPPF suggests planners should “give great weight to protecting landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“The conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage are important considerations in all these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads.”
Last night a Defra spokesman said: “This consultation is not about changing the protection that National Parks have in the planning system. National Parks are England’s crown jewels and will remain that way.”
She added that the Government did “not think that there is a problem with how National Parks currently deliver sustainable development”, however it had agreed “to seek public views through consultation”.

Note:  English National Parks have the duty to ‘Seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities within the National Parks’, but in the event of a conflict between that and the primary duties – including conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, the primary duty has precedence.  The government proposal seems to want to introduce a test similar to the scottish national parks, here there are two additional tests – To promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area & To promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities, and their is no hierarchy between the tests.  What the government has done with the sloppy incompetent wording of the draft NPPF is that sustainable development has been given such a bad name that the moment it is mentioned people see visions of bulldozers.  Quite clearly they have achieved the unthinkable – to give sustainable development a bad name, which perhaps was the intention all along

Minsky and the Five Year Housing Supply Pipeline – Time for a Rethink #NPPF

The 5 year supply rule for housing is well understood and when plans are kept up to date and market conditions are good then it works well.

But market conditions are not good.  Some local planning authorities have plentiful supplies of land that would be viable in normal times but the house-builders are claiming that they are not now, so they put in applications for ever more greenfield cherry picked sites, look for example at recent appeals around Raunds in East Northamptonshire.  Now if market conditions further deteriorate then even these sites become unviable.  So they claim the need for ever more premium and ever more remote sites to ‘restore’ the 5 year supply.

What we see here is an example of why the 5 year supply rule does not work in depressed conditions when there is an oversupply of housing sites.  It only works in conditions of well behaved downward sloping demand curves and upward sloping supply curves.

To be technical in areas of fragile viability we have a backward sloping supply curve because of a profit effect and a budget constraint – the more that is supplied then with a limited number of market entrants profits levels decline below viability.  What is worse is that with the land values declining we have a lowering default value for the asset – land – and so the collateral value of that asset will not support a loan.  This collateral effect was first assessed by Hyman Minsky.  In normal times and for normal investors it does not matters as it is the cash flow not the default value of loans that matter, but for high risk loans, such as first time buyers uncertain if they will have a job in the near term, the lender will rely more and more of the default collateral value rather than the income stream.  Too many lenders lending on the basis of high risk loans creates financial instability, but worse at a time of falling asset prices but recovering demand lenders wont lend at all – lending becomes too risky with the prospect of the default value not covering the loan.

What this suggests is that if market conditions are fragile, as they are in many parts of the east midlands and north of England, the worst thing you can do is allocate more land making ever more housing sites unprofitable.  Rather what you should be doing is reviewing zoning to make only a few sites profitable, shifting the supply curve to the point of maximum producer surplus, then gradually extend the housing supply once building recommences.  A true plan, monitor and manage approach based on price signals.

It also suggests that at time of high housebuilding you should be extending the 5 year period, but not too much as this can induce investors who take the signal of high housebuilding and high profits to take out what Minsky called ‘ponzi’ investments, those base on unrealistic default values rather than realistic cash flows – a housing bubble.

So what I am suggesting here are too rules to manage the length of the housing supply pipeline.

a) If housebuilding rates are falling even with an increase in housing land restrict land supply until the point housebuilding increases;

b) Then increase housing land supply until the point that the price of housing land exceeds the point that can be supported by rental yields then cease expanding the housing land supply. Ideally loans to the existing stock should be restricted by the same rule – a much finder grained control that national interest rates controls and some housing markets may be overheating but not others.

Economists will recognise this as similar to a Taylor Rule for inflation – and the theory behind it is the similar.  There is a natural rate of development land vacancy.

A 5 year supply – that would be viable under normal market circumstances – can be used as a benchmark, and then adjusted each year up or down depending on market circumstances.

If applied properly these rules can avoid boom and bust in the housing market.

Of course in some parts of the South East it could be argued that the the demand level is so high that very large housing supplies could be supported, and that an area might not be able to take that – but that is an argument for strategic planning not for restricting housing supply per-se. If you cannot physically expand your own supply then provide good evidence as to where else should be be developed instead.

Sprawl shifts to Agriculture at Edges of Overextended American Cities

Wall Street Journal

Five years into a brutal national housing downturn, raw land destined for residential development has fallen so far in value that thousands of acres across the country are being used again for agriculture.

During the fast-moving days of the housing boom, real-estate speculators in California, Arizona, Florida and other states paid top dollar to buy land from farmers and convert it from citrus groves and cotton fields to potential subdivisions.

Now, with crop prices soaring and housing in a deep slump, the economics of land investment have turned upside down. Farmers and investors are buying land that had been slated for development and using it for agriculture.  And they are paying a small fraction of what housing developers paid for the same land before the recession.

“The trend, if it continues, could represent a historic shift away from development in the far reaches of metropolitan areas. These properties had fueled much of the housing industry’s bubble last decade.”

Whelan quotes a broker in Illinois who sold some subdivision land to corn and soybean farmers:

“The primary thing that was driving development here was people’s desire and willingness to get out of the city.  But development is over.  It’s done . . . It’ll be 15-20 years before this land is developed.”

This is of course an example of Von Thunen’s margin of cultivation shifting because of higher food prices and an oversupply of housing land .   With a bid rent curve shifting upwards and the housing curve shifting downwards the margin shifts inwards.   Some american states have enough land zoned for 100 years.  Hence with this oversupply of zoned land, which helped precipitate the over extension of credit and the inevitable fall in house prices, and of course the global financial crisis, land owners are selling the land to productive alternative use.

Transcription of the last DCLG #NPPF Select Committee hearing with Greg Clark

Here  Below  is the key question on the 20% rule and windfalls

Q347 George Hollingbery:..I am coming specifically to the five-year land supply with the target of 20% extra on top and the ability whether or not to assess windfall sites. Can you reflect quickly on whether you feel slightly uncomfortable that the second part of it-the 20% extra and the inability, which is not total inability, or difficulty of bringing windfall sites into your projections-is somewhat centrist rather than localist. Plenty of authorities have lots of evidence that windfall sites come forward on a regular and predictable basis.

Secondly, a lot of challenges to local plans, particularly right now, are going on around five-year land supply and deliverability. I have a local example where it is pretty plain to me that a large developer has held back a site deliberately so that the numbers were not being supplied through the local plan so he could then get another site approved, which of course he adds to his balance sheets-something that can be done in difficult times….

Greg Clark: …

Both the sixth year, as it might be better to call it, and the windfalls reflect what has been a theme of this discussion as to whether a plan is a real plan. There is no point having a document that is a fiction, that is not going to engage with the needs of the community in the future. What we know across the country is that land that is allocated for housing-or for economic development, for that matter-some of it drops out, for whatever reason. You might find that land was thought to be able to accommodate eight homes and, when it comes to it, six are built because there might have been a tree with a preservation order, or when the matter came before the committee, they preferred something slightly less dense. To go down from eight to six means that you have lost 25% of the available housing.

The suggestion in the draft was that you reflect that drop by having a buffer there so that you are not obliged to build any more homes than you actually do intend to build, but you have something there to recognise that not everything happens in the way that you thought-no more than that. It is about the number that you have but recognising that it’s not all going to be built. Some respondents to the consultation have said, “Well, this varies across the country. Some councils may have a very accurate record of being able to provide the land and build the commercial or the residential development they need, so should they not be able to have a more localist arrangement and be able to demonstrate that there is a reason to suppose that their projection is more accurate?” Again, that point been made, and given that I have set out the policy intent, we will reflect on that.

Similarly, windfalls are not currently to be included in the first period. There is a prospective tension between true planning. If the point of having a local plan is to be able to say where the new homes will be so that you can plan the infrastructure, make sure that they are in the right places, assess school places and so on, and if you were, in the very extreme case, to have a situation in which all your housing was going to come from windfalls, it would be quite difficult to be able to plan for that, so there is a tension there between the two. This is a bit like my answer to the earlier point, George. Some people have said, “Well, actually, in some authorities a consistent level of windfalls is produced and they are in very predictable places, so should there not be the ability to reflect that?” That seems to be a constructive suggestion, which we will reflect on.

 

 

Banks try to wiggle out of Greek Haircut

Guardian

Negotiators from the Institute of International Finance, a consortium of Greek bondholders, have agreed to swap their current bonds for new ones worth just 50% of their current value, although the final figure has still to be thrashed out. But in return, they are understood to be demanding that the future interest rate on the new bonds will be around8% a year.

As …Patrick Collinson points out, this means that bondholders will receive almost the same amount of interest they are currently getting.:
In other words, the cost to the Greek government of servicing their giant debt may not fall by much, if at all. Yes, the crucial debt-to-GDP ratio will fall, but the portion of government spending eaten up by paying the interest on the bonds will stay much the same.

It’s like changing your mortgage from £200,000 on 5% a year to £100,000 on 10% a year. You owe less, but the monthly amount coming out of your pay packet to service the loan stays the same, so you’re no better off.

The negotiators for the IIF are also insisting that any future bonds issued by the Greeks come under British law, so that the Greeks won’t in future be able to force any more haircuts on them.

Why the European Central Bank is Screwing up – Its Economic Model Doesnt include Unemployment

Merijn Knibbe at Real World Economics Review

Have you ever wondered why an U-3 unemployment rate of 23% in Spain (and rising) and 18% in Greece (and rising) doesn’t seem to bother the European Central Bank (ECB)? I have. And it might have something to do with the kind of models the European Central Bank uses, like the ECB ‘New Area Wide Model” (NAWM), which does not include unemployment as a variable. It literally defines unemployment away. People using this model don’t see what happens to unemployment – and at the ECB they do use this model… And yes, these are the kind of models which people like Greg Mankiw sell to their students. Let’s take a look at this:

The ECB is quite proud of its model:

““The New-Area-Wide Model (NAWM) is a micro-founded open-economy model of the euro area, which is designed for use in the (Broad) Macroeconomic Projection Exercises regularly undertaken by ECB/Eurosystem staff and for policy analysis.

the key features of the model are:

– Its scale – compared with a typical DSGE model – is relatively large.
– Employing Bayesian methods, it estimates 18 key macroeconomic variables, including real GDP, private consumption, total investment, government consumption, exports and imports, a number of deflators, employment and wages, and the short-term nominal interest rate.”

One variable is obviously missing from this list. Unemployment. This is characteristic for neo-classical macro models: the representative consumer which represents the entire sector households in thee models has, of course, only one job. As there is only one, representative, job in these models (or, for that matter: one, representative, house which is partly owner occupied and partly rented). In the models, And representative consumer might work a little less or more – that’s what we call unemployment. But in the models it isn’t, not even U-6, involuntary part time work, unemployment. And it surely never becomes total unemployement (U-3 concept). The representative consumer does not get fired, according to the assumptions of the model, as the he-she entity of the model literally chooses to work a little less or a little more. But let’s quote Frank Smets, chief economists of the ECB, and one of the authors of the NAWM on this:

“Over the past decade an increasing number of central banks and other policy institutions have developed and estimated medium-scale New Keynesian DSGE models. The combination of a good empirical …fit with a sound, microfounded structure makes these models particularly suitable for forecasting and policy analysis. However, as highlighted by Galí and Gerter (2009) and others, one of the shortcomings of these models is the lack of a reference to unemployment. This is unfortunate because unemployment is an important indicator of aggregate resource utilization and the central focus of the policy debate.”

I’ll return to the ‘good empirical fit’. For now, we have to emphasize that Smets and some others realised that it’s an omission to leave unemployment out of these models and have been tinkering to introduced some kind of modelling of unemployment into the model and ‘estimated’ the model for the USA. What happens, when unemployment is introduced in such a model? Again according to Frank Smets:

“First, we show that wage markup shocks play a smaller role in driving output and employment fluctuations than previously thought”.

That’s a shocking remark. It means that, according to this new model, severe wage cuts (“negative wage markup shocks”) do not lead to an overnight increase in the number of jobs and production, while the ECB economists using the old NAWM assumed that that would happen, in for instance the Baltics and Spain and Greece and Portugal and Ireland. Ironically, this model was assumed to have a ‘good empirical fit’, a fit which now turns out to have been quite bad. The model (and therewith the ECB economists!) didn’t only even ‘see’ 23% unemployment in Spain, which is bad enough. But introducing unemployment shows that the kind of austerity policies advocated by the ECB do not work the way the ECB assumed these policies to work. At least, according to the new model, which might be wrong too, of course. What a crap. And remember – many of the variables in these models are not estimated but ‘callibrated’, another word for ‘made up’. But the new model at least shows the trade-off between unemployment and prosperity.

This is the kind of stuff people Mankiw have to discuss with their students – especially in an introductory course in economics. Sadly, the students discuss it with Mankiw…

Beyond this, there is of course the usual nonsense, like the use of the word ‘estimation’ while the model isn’t really estimated and the use of ‘social indifference curves’- which really do not exist and even can’t exist, and the talk about micro foundations which aren’t micro at all. Newspeak, in the 1984 sense.

Let’s end with a quote from John Maynard Keynes, from a 1929 Loyd George election pamflet (hat tip Jesse Frederik):

“The Conservative belief that there is some law of nature which prevents men from being employed, that it is ‘rash’ to employ men, and that it is financially ‘sound’ to maintain a tenth of the population in idleness for an indefinite period, is crazily improbable – the sort of thing which no man could believe who had not had his head fuddled with nonsense for years and years. The objections which are raised are mostly not the objections of experience or of practical men. They are based on highly abstract theories – venerable, academic inventions, half misunderstood by those who are applying them today, and based on assumptions which are contrary to the facts…Our main task, therefore, will be to confirm the reader’s instinct that what seems sensible is sensible, and what seems nonsense is nonsense.”

Martin Goodall on Localism Act Commencement

His Planning law Blog

Following Royal Assent on 15 November, the Localism Act 2011 has now reached the statute book. Section 240 of the Act makes the following provisions as to commencement [planning provisions printed in bold italics] : –

The following provisions in the Act came into force on 15 November: – section 23, paragraphs 57 and 58 of Schedule 4, and section 26 so far as it relates to those paragraphs, section 37, Chapter 2 of Part 5 so far as it confers power on the Secretary of State to make regulations, section 86, Chapter 3 of Part 5 so far as it confers power on the Secretary of State or the Welsh Ministers to make regulations or orders, sections 103 and 104, section 109(1)(b) and (2) to (6), paragraphs 1, 13(1), 18 and 19 of Schedule 8 and section 109(7) so far as they relate to those provisions of that Schedule, section 110, sections 116 and 121 and Schedules 9 to 12 so far as those sections or Schedules confer power on the Secretary of State to make regulations or publish documents setting standards, sections 117 to 120, the provisions inserted by section 122 so far as they require or authorise the making of provision in a development order, section 144, sections 168 to 175, section 233 and Schedule 24 so far as they confer power on the Treasury to make regulations or orders, sections 234, 235, 236, 238, 239, 240 and 241, and Part 15 of Schedule 25, and section 237 so far as it relates to that Part.

Section 114 came into force on 16 November.

The following provisions of the Act will come into force on 15 January 2012 : – section 25, Chapter 8 of Part 1 so far as it relates to England, section 44, section 45, section 47, section 71, section 80, sections 111 to 113, section 143, section 177, section 183 and Schedule 18, Chapter 2 of Part 8, except section 197(3)(e) and (f) and (5), and Parts 6, 8, 14, 17 and 29 of Schedule 25, and section 237 so far as it relates to those Parts.

The remainder of the Act will come into force on such dates as are specified in the usual plethora of commencement orders. There is no guarantee that every section of the Act will actually be brought into force, and as planning professionals are very well aware, there are still sections in the 1991, 2004 and 2008 Acts which have not yet been brought into force and probably never will be.

Planning, which was originally in Part 5 of the Bill now forms Part 6 of the Act, comprising sections 109 to 144. Chapter 1 (sections 109 to 113) deals with the abolition of regional strategies and other matters relating to plan-making. Chapter 2 (sections 114 and 115) contains amendments to the CIL regime. Neighbourhood planning is dealt with in Chapter 3 (sections 116 to 121). Chapter 4 comprises a single section (122) introducing a requirement for consultation before applying for planning permission. The new enforcement provisions are set out in Chapter 5 (sections 123 to 127). Chapter 6 (sections 128 to 142) abolishes the Infrastructure Planning Commission and makes revised provision for the processing of applications for major infrastructure projects. Finally, Chapter 7 (sections 143 and 144) includes the notorious provision in section 143 introducing ‘local finance considerations’ as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

More detailed provisions on some of these topics are to be found in the following schedules: – Schedule 8 — Regional strategies: consequential amendments; Schedule 9 — Neighbourhood planning (Part 1 — Neighbourhood development orders; Part 2 — Neighbourhood development plans); Schedule 10 — Process for making of neighbourhood development orders; Schedule 11 — Neighbourhood planning: community right to build orders; Schedule 12 — Neighbourhood planning: consequential amendments; Schedule 13 — Infrastructure Planning Commission: transfer of functions to Secretary of State (Part 1 — Amendments of the Planning Act 2008; Part 2 — Other amendments).

All very turgid; but we are going to have to get our heads round this in the months to come.

Wayne Rooney needed Planning Consent for Architect Designed Mega-Shed

Architects Journal

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has hired Pulmann Associates Architects to design him a new garden shed.

The England player is demolishing his existing garden store and erecting a new one three times the size.

The new shed, which was subject to planning consent because of the size increase, is to be built in the same position as the existing structure.

According to planning details submitted to Cheshire East Council the new shed has been built with weatherboard walls and a bitumen roof but does not include windows. The new shed also has an internal wall separating a smaller store room with separate door to the main shed.

Not everyone in the local area was happy with Rooney’s new shed. One neighbour complained to the council that the structure was 3 to 4m closer to their home and that the site was prone to flooding.

The neighbour said: “The site of the proposed store has been flooded at least twice in the past 25 years, by the brook that runs adjacent to it.

“Another flood could result in pollution from garden chemicals (e.g.herbicides, pesticides), fuel for machinery etc. that may be in the store.”

Another neighbour objected to the proposals because the tree height at Rooney’s property was too high.

 

Its not going to win any architectural awards, and its not instantly apparent why planning consent was needed.

DCLG Summary of key Localism Act Provisions

Power shift from Whitehall to communities gets underway

Published 16 November 2011

An era of Whitehall control has ended with a historic shift in power back to local people, as the Localism Bill becomes law.

The Localism Act will trigger the biggest transfer of power in a generation, releasing councils and communities from the grip of central government.

The flagship legislation, which late yesterday afternoon received Royal Assent, puts a raft of new rights and powers at the disposal of local people to take charge of their future, delivering on more than 30 coalition agreement commitments.

Key measures to increase the power of local government through the Act include:

  • Introducing a new general power of competence, giving councils unprecedented freedom to work together to improve services and drive down costs. Councils are now free to do anything – provided they do not break other laws
  • Opening the door for the transfer of power to our major cities to develop their areas, improve local services, and boost their local economies
  • Ending the ineffective system for overseeing the behaviour of councillors by abolishing the Standards Board
  • Clarifying the rules on predetermination in order to free up councillors to express their opinions on issues of local importance without the fear of legal challenge
  • Enabling councils to return to the committee system of governance, if they wish, regardless of their size. Centrally set rules interfering in how councils set up their own affairs are being scrapped
  • Giving councils greater control over business rates. Councils will have the power to offer business rate discounts, which could help attract firms, investment and jobs.The Act cancels unfair backdated business rates, which threatened to cripple key businesses. It stops plans to impose a business rate supplement on firms if a simple majority of those affected do not give their consent, and simplifies the process for claiming small business rate relief
  • Introducing new planning enforcement rules, giving councils the ability to take action against people who deliberately conceal unauthorised development
  • Increasing powers for councils to remove illegal advertisements and graffiti and prevent fly-posting, and giving planning authorities stronger powers to tackle abuses of the planning system
  • Reforming homelessness legislation to enable councils to provide good quality private rented homes where appropriate, freeing up social homes for people in need on the waiting list
  • Allowing councils to keep the rent they collect and use it locally to maintain social homes through the abolition of the housing revenue account
  • Passing greater powers over housing and regeneration to local democratically elected representatives in London.

Key measures to increase the power of local communities include:

  • Introducing a new Right to Bid, which will give residents the opportunity to take over treasured local assets like shops and pubs and keep them part of local life
  • Introducing a new Right to Challenge, making it much easier for local groups with good ideas to put them forward and drive improvements in local services
  • Consigning Bin Taxes to the dustbin of history, by removing the ability of councils to charge families for overfilling their bin and to introduce extra tariffs for taking away household waste
  • Increasing transparency on local pay, by requiring  councils to publish the salaries of senior officials working in local authorities, enabling local people to understand how public money is being spent in their area
  • Giving communities the right to veto excess council tax rises. Previously only central government had the power to ‘cap’ increases
  • Introducing a new right to draw up a neighbourhood plan, giving local people a real voice to say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go – and what they should look like
  • Enabling communities to bring forward proposals for development they want – such as homes, shops, playgrounds or meeting halls, through the Community Right to Build
  • Freeing home sellers and buyers from red tape through the abolition of Home Information Packs. The Act removes HIPs once and for all from the statute books
  • Enabling people to swap their social home, for example because they wish to move jobs. A national home swap scheme will give access to details of all other tenants who may be a match
  • Giving social tenants stronger tools to hold their landlords to account. Landlords will be expected to support tenant panels – or similar bodies – so tenants can carefully examine the services being offered. The Tenant Services Authority will be abolished
  • Requiring developers to consult local communities before submitting certain applications. This gives people a chance to comment while there is still scope to make changes
  • Ending decision making by unaccountable officials on important infrastructure projects such as train lines and power stations. The Act abolishes the Infrastructure Planning Commission, and restores responsibility for taking decisions to elected, accountable Ministers.

Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities Eric Pickles said:

“Today marks the beginning of an historic shift of power from Whitehall to every community to take back control of their lives.

“The Localism Act pulls down the Whitehall barricades so it will no longer call the shots over communities – bug bears like housing targets and bin taxes are gone.

“For too long, local people were held back and ignored because Whitehall thought it knew best. That is changing for good. Councils have their General Power of Competence and residents have a real power over decisions like council tax, town hall pay, planning, community buildings or local services.”

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:

“For the best part of a hundred years Parliament has been passing laws that increase the Government’s powers at the expense of people and communities.

“This historic Act begins to reverse a hundred years of centralisation. It puts power into the hands of citizens, community groups and local councils. It breaks the monopoly on all new policy initiatives having to come from Whitehall by giving a new right of initiative to people in their local areas.

“The Localism Act is not the end of the journey towards a more permissive, flexible Britain but it makes a great stride in a direction that the Government will continue to travel.”

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell added:

“This Act marks a huge cultural change not just for those local communities and local councils, but for those in Westminster, and perhaps even more for those in Whitehall.

“There has been gathering frustration at the way in which local communities and local councils have had their decision making taken away from them. We needed to change that culture: it was long overdue change, and this Act makes a start on achieving it.”

Notes to editors

1. A plain English guide to the Localism Bill is available at:www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/localismplainenglishupdate.

2. In the coming weeks and months the measures in the Localism Act will begin to come into effect. Many of the measures are expected to be in place by April 2012.