A duty to Consult on Local Plans in Levelling Up Act ?- not Quite

Paul Scully the new planning minister said in a Westminster Hall debate last week that the levelling up Bill contained a duty to consult on local plans – not quote.

The post skeffington, post 1974 Acts did contain a clear up front duty to consult on local plans prior to finalisation.

In 2004 this was replaced by the SCI duty – now opposed to be abolished.

The new bill though overall a simplification and codification of local plan law contained no simple duty.

Rather it contains a duty to have regard to consultations specified in regulations (i.e. statutory consultation only) and in section 15LE that regulations may prescribe:

consultation with, or participation by, the public or any prescribed body or other person in connection with anything done under this Part, including provision imposing requirements for consultation or participation or as to the nature and extent of the consultation or participation that may or must take place;

But the status quo is that regulations prescribe only a limited range of ‘statutory’ consultees’ (known as specific consultation bodies’ – like the Environment Agency and adjoining local authorities, other ‘general consultation bodies’ can be specified by the LPA, their is no requirement to consult all of these at reg 18 stage and only at reg 19 stage. Even at reg 22 submission stage there is no general duty to notify the general public, only those who requested to be notified of submission at previous stages.

So if you are a concerned individual your rights to participation in law on a local plan have arguably regressed over the last 20 years.