FoL says councils need to seize initiative

Think tank Future of London has released a report which says localism could work in London, but that councils need to seize the initiative in order to realise the full benefits.

Future of London has released a new report highlighting that it is vital for London Boroughs to take an ambitious and innovative approach to the new powers that are on offer through the localism agenda.

The Future of London report says that by taking advantage of the new General Power of Competence, new revenue streams and local assets, Boroughs can ensure localism has a significant impact on planning and regeneration in their areas.

“Localism in London: Implications for Planning and Regeneration” aims to set out the key elements of the Government’s localism agenda, and the likely impact they will have on regional and local government in London. It also features the results of a London-wide survey of planning and regeneration practitioners, which highlights a marked difference in attitudes when considering the agenda as a whole, compared to the specific new tools on offer – while only 10% felt that the localism agenda provided them with the tools they need to raise standards in planning, over 70% believed that the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy, the New Homes Bonus, Housing Revenue Account reform and the General Power of Competence may either be useful or very useful in their area.

Nearly half of those surveyed indicated that their authority was going to be taking the General Power of Competence at face value, and they they were looking at new ways to fund and deliver development and regeneration in their area, including tax increment financing, prudential borrowing against CIL revenues and HRA headroom, as well as taking a new, and more proactive approach to asset and land management.

Ben Harrison, Chief Executive of Future of London says: “The Localism Agenda has very specific implications for London, compared to other parts of the country. Many of the headline reforms – the absorption of quangos into the GLA, the creation of the London Enterprise Panel and Enterprise Zones – have focused on empowering regional Government in London.”

“But London Boroughs have also benefited from the Localism Agenda. Against a backdrop of public funding cuts, London Boroughs are actively exploring the potential for the Community Infrastructure Levy, New Homes Bonus, business rate devolution and Housing Revenue Account Reform to boost growth in their area. No one tool will be sufficient to meet the challenges they face, so it is vital that London Boroughs take an innovative approach to the new powers that are on offer.”

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