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Call for greater clarity on Localism Bill

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has urged that the new Localism Bill be made more business friendly.

The Bill is due to go through the House of Lords.

The BCC has lent its support to the Communities and Local Government Commons Committee report on the legislation which voiced worries over the Bill’s lack of clarity.

The BCC said that the report was right to highlight that localism needs a clearer definition on how Whitehall and local government will work together.

In the view of the business group, more recognition needs to be made of the fact that local councils should be accountable to firms as well as to residents, and that local companies must be seen as constituents not just tick-box consultees.

Planning was identified as a major issue.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC, commented: “One of the areas of greatest concern to business is the potential for the localism agenda to further complicate the planning system. For too long, the scales have been weighted against companies seeking to expand their premises and invest in their local areas, despite taking a responsible and sustainable approach to development.

“As the Localism bill enters the House of Lords, we urge Ministers to ensure it delivers a business-friendly planning system. Growth requires greater clarity and certainty for the thousands of companies up and down the UK that face repeated planning delays, spiralling costs, and spurious objections that stifle growth and jobs.

“The government has rightly recognised that businesses play an important role in communities, and have amended the bill to ensure that local companies have a voice in local planning decisions. This is a positive step, but there is still much more to be done to deliver a cost-effective, timely and efficient planning process that gives businesses confidence to invest.”