Community participation: UK planning reforms and international obligations
Razzaque, J. and Stookes, P. (2002) Community participation: UK planning reforms and international obligations. Journal of Planning and Environmental Law. pp. 786-795. ISSN 0307-4870
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Land use has a critical impact on the environment and sustainable development. The UK Government is concerned that the present land use system is neither efficient nor effective, that it is expensive and that there is delay over major decisions, which it believes, hinders economic growth. Others are concerned that the individuals and communities that have to live with the long term impacts of development are not getting an adequate opportunity to represent themselves and influence the decisions that directly affect them. The UK Government has published a series of consultation papers designed to ‘deliver fundamental change’ in the planning system. These include a planning Green Paper, procedures for major projects, and reform of planning obligations, compulsory purchase, and the Use Classes system. The proposed reforms will have to meet the UK’s obligations under European Union (EU) and international law. While there is no land use framework in contrast to other environmental sectors such as waste and water, it seems clear from recent and forthcoming legislation that land use, and in particular community participation in the land use process is becoming prominent as part of environmental legislation. In addition, the Aarhus Convention is set to be one of the most influential pieces of environmental legislation for years with the EU about to implement a Directive that ensures other primary environmental legislation complies with the Convention and covers the three key pillars of Aarhus: access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice. It is submitted that, although the Government’s reforms express a commitment to greater community participation in land use matters this is not evident in the detailed proposals and that the proposals will not satisfy many of the UK’s international obligations.