The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has welcomed yesterday’s publication of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill.
The Bill sets out a range of measures designed to devolve power to local communities and place new responsibilities on local authorities. Key points include:
- ‘General Power of Competence’ for local authorities - to provide councils with more freedom and scope for innovation.
- ‘Duty to Cooperate’ on local authorities - to ensure strategic working between locals authorities and public bodies.
- New ‘Neighbourhood Planning system’ - enabling communities to permit development without the need for planning applications.
- ‘Community Right to Challenge’ - giving communities the right to take over local services.
- ‘Community Right to Buy’ - giving communities the right to bid and raise capital to buy listed private or public assets of community value.
Speaking today, RIBA President Ruth Reed said:
'The Localism Bill will spark a profound shift in the way England is governed and presents real challenges for all those involved in designing and planning new development. Localism could be a powerful means of engaging local communities more positively in the development process, but this will be unchartered territory and it will require a real commitment from councils and professions, including architects, to make it work across the country.'
'To genuinely empower local people and give real teeth to localism, it will be essential that local communities are provided with the tools and support that are necessary to deliver. Whilst we see architects playing a key role in the neighbourhood planning process and would urge our members to get involved, the onus will be on local government to ensure that the new system is properly resourced and that communities have access to the right expertise. Given the local government budget cuts announced yesterday, we are very concerned that this might not happen.'