Nearly a quarter of Conservative and one-third of Liberal Democrat councillors do not support the Localism Bill, new research has revealed.
Unsurprisingly only six per cent of Labour councillors are in favour of localism. And with Labour expected to increase its seats at the next local election, the number of councillors opposed to the bill is likely grow.
This is a worrying statistic for what is one of the Government’s major policies.
The research, which included a survey of 400 councillors from across the UK, including 31 in the West Midlands, and 2,000 members of the general public, was unveiled at CB Richard Ellis’ third annual Government & Infrastructure conference.
Of the 2,000 members of the public surveyed, four in five (78 per cent) thought that their local area was just right or already over-developed, suggesting that NIMBYism could be a significant barrier to new development.
A poll of 200 senior property industry professionals conducted at the conference also highlighted NIMBYism concerns. Nearly half (46 per cent) warned that localism would increase NIMBYism and subsequently make it harder to bring forward the new developments needed to encourage growth.
The Government has implemented a raft of incentives to offset cuts and encourage councils to pursue economic growth through new development, including the £1.4 million Regional Growth Fund (RGF), New Homes Bonus (NHB) and Enterprise Zones.
However industry experts warned that the funding for the incentives is insufficient, with 58 per cent agreeing that the RGF does not provide access to sufficient cash to make a genuine difference, and only 27 per cent agreeing that the NHB is sufficiently generous.
Philip Scott, the Birmingham-based head of planning for the regions at CB Richard Ellis, said: “The proposed new planning laws within the Bill have been lauded as a potential charter for the NIMBY lobby.
“In reality, I suspect it is more likely to be a charter that results in more bureaucracy, frustration and disappointment.
“At a time when many local authorities and community groups are seeing income reduced and are being forced to review their resources and front-line staff, loading another new initiative onto them seems perverse and ill-conceived, particularly when it’s local authorities who are likely to get the flak when the system grinds to a halt.
“The Government needs to win over a greater number of councillors and the general public to ensure this important policy is successfully embraced.
“The incentives that have been introduced are a step in the right direction but funding for those incentives now needs to be increased to ensure these measures have a real impact on economic growth.”