Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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Author of controversial planning report takes key role at Number 10

by Ian Shires on 13 February, 2020

 Published in Local Government Chronicle 11 FEBRUARY 2020 BY 

Jack Airey, researcher, Localis

The author of a controversial report that recommends overhauling the planning system in a way that would block councillors from much of the process has just been given an influential role at Number Ten.

Jack Airey (pictured), who was previously head of research at Localis,  has been made Downing Street’s special adviser on housing and planning. As housing lead for the thinktank Policy Exchange Mr Airey co-authored a report that was published last week, Rethinking the Planning System for the 21st Century.

This recommended that councillors should have no say in deciding individual applications for new developments but be limited to a “purely administrative exercise” in checking that proposals conform to local rules for new development set out in radically reformed local plans.

The report also calls for a rethink of what it describes as “restrictive” green belts and says that rather than stretching to many hundreds of pages, local plans should be short. “Central government consolidated 200 documents and 7,000 pages of national planning policy into the 59 page 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. Local planning authorities can do the same,” it said.

According to the Times, the report is being “seriously looked at” by the No 10 policy unit and ministers are keen to pursue an early “radical reform” of the planning system.

An ‘accelerated’ planning White Paper is expected to be published soon which is intended to speed up the planning system in order to help the government achieve its target of building 300,000 homes a year.
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