Buckinghamshire is the latest area to form a Unitary Authority, merging the former County and District Councils. It is now he largest local authority in the UK.
It follows in the wake of authorities such as Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire, who have all consolidated to reduce costs, increase the areas influence and lever in central Government funding.
Cratus communications reported ‘The new council has five Area Planning Committees covering Central, East, North, South and West of Buckinghamshire, along with a Strategic Planning Committee which will determine larger applications. The membership of these Committees is yet to be confirmed; however they are scheduled to be up and running by early June, albeit remotely. We can expect the identity of Committee members to be confirmed by the time of the new Council’s AGM, which is scheduled to take place on 20 May.’
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, as the Covid 19 crisis has delayed local elections meaning that all of the members of the former constituent authorities will remain in place for a little longer. Commenting on the proposals, Alan Davies Associate Director at Chapman Lily noted that ‘… the planning service is led by an experienced manager who will no doubt look to align services, as elsewhere we hope to see a smooth transition but don’t underestimate the scale of the challenge. Whilst some observers will be concerned about democratic accountability owing to the reduction in the number of Councillors, a Unitary Authority does present the opportunity to co-ordinate services more effectively, which is very helpful when it comes to spatial planning’. For more information, please contact us.