Frank Little

Councillor for East Central ward on Coedffranc Town Council Learn more

The coalition budget

by franklittle on 24 March, 2011

Against a very difficult background, George Osborne has kept to the coalition agreement. The personal allowance will continue to be raised in 2012/13, though not by as much as we are about to benefit by in 2011/12. Other measures are discussed elsewhere, so I won’t go through the speech in detail, but two developments in particular stood out for me.

One that worries me as a county borough councillor, especially as I have been unable to find any background detail, is the suggestion that planning permissions can be auctioned. The context is this section of Mr Osborne’s speech: “We are also going to tackle what every Government have identified as a chronic obstacle to economic growth in Britain, and what no Government have done anything about: the planning system. Councils are spending 13% more in real terms on planning permissions than they did five years ago, despite the fact that applications have fallen by a third. Yes, local communities should have a greater say in planning, but from today, we will expect all bodies involved in planning decisions to prioritise growth and jobs, and we will introduce a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, so that the default answer to development is yes. We will retain existing controls on green belt, but we will remove the nationally imposed targets on the use of previously developed land. We will also allow certain use class changes, introduce time limits on applications and pilot, for the first time ever, auctions of planning permission on land.”

The other is rather happier. Chris Huhne and Vince Cable have succeeded in obtaining borrowing powers for the Green Investment Bank – not immediately, but in 2015-16 when the national finances are back on an even keel. Even before then, it seems that the Green Bank will be able to act as a conduit for private risk capital into sustainable developments.

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