Ministers will not now have to give reasons if controversial decisions – like Fosters’ Tulip – don’t face national scrutiny
Campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage has accused the government of making a “major backwards step” on transparency by ending the practice of publishing reasons why a secretary of state has decided not to intervene in controversial planning decisions.
The move, announced by housing secretary James Brokenshire, means that he or his successors will not have to explain if they choose not to use their powers to call in a local authority decision – such as the City of London’s approval of Foster & Partner’s Tulip tourist tower last week.
Under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, secretaries of state are entitled to call in a local authority’s decision to approve a planning application, effectively submitting it to an inquiry that will inform a minister’s final decision. Anyone can request a decision be called in, but only a miniscule proportion of approvals ever are.
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