Cllr. Lesley Wagland Praised Over Change in National Planning Law

A suggestion put forward by former Epping Forest District Council leader Lesley Wagland regarding planning policy has been adopted by the Government.

Mrs Wagland wrote to Ministers making her suggestion regarding a ‘Statement of Truth’, and now her idea for a ‘Statement of Truth’ has been included in Government policy and was included in an announcement about Planning Simplification Measures made this week by Minister for State for Decentralisation and Cities, Greg Clarke MP.

Mrs Wagland had written to Minister Bob Neill in February highlighting the fact that a ‘Statement of Truth’ is a professional standard for many, if not most, professionals who give their opinions to any form of decision-making body.

She added: “There is a strong case for saying that planning is actually out of line with modern, effective processes in not requiring a statement of truth, and it would not add to the time or cost taken in relation to planning, save to require the person signing to think and be careful, both of which are likely to enhance the process and the prospects of success.”

In his announcement this week, Mr Clarke said: “It is important that local authorities, communities and Planning Inspectors can rely on the information contained in applications. To reinforce this point I will amend the declaration on the standard application form so that applicants are asked to confirm that the information provided is, to the best of their knowledge, truthful and accurate.”

Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing said: “I would like to thank Lesley Wagland and councillor John Philip, who was the planning portfolio holder on the district council at the time, for highlighting this issue and for their work in bringing it to the attention of Ministers.

“The inclusion of a ‘Statement of Truth’ as part of the planning process is a great improvement to the planning system.”