So, the list is out this morning. Before we get to that however, it's interesting that the flavour of the rhetoric seems to have changed. No longer cost-saving; now accountability. Lack of accountability was my main objection to the IPC so I am pleased to see that in the reasoning. What's interesting for planning and environment?
The Homes and Communities Agency is to be slimmed down and become a smaller enabling and investment body, working for local communities. It will also regain the regulatory functions of the Tenant Services Authority. (Incidentally, when I was working on the second edition of the Law Society's model planning agreement in May we came under some pressure from DCLG to include a reference to TSA, which I am glad I resisted.) This is an interesting move for the body which originates in English Estates and the Housing Corporation.
CABE is still under consideration but English Heritage is no longer under threat of merger with the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
The more dramatic changes are at the Environment Agency and Natural England. Both are to be reformed through structural, process and cultural change to become a more efficient and customer focused organisation, and to clarify accountabilities. These sound like serious changes. There have been sustained criticisms over many years of inconsistencies between EA offices. Is that what the reform is about? Natural England has also had its critics for lack of accountability - I have been involved in two cases which were in essence rooted in that issue.
DEFRA sponsored bodies don't do well really - a clutch of Advisory Committees including hazardous substances and packaging are being abolished or changed into expert committes.
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is to be wound up completely, presumably because the sterling work it has done for many years has paid off and environmental pollution issues are now well recognised - an honourable and well deserved retirement.
The RDAs are of course going as well, but that's not news. So what will it mean for planning and environment? Well the first thing to remember is that the statutory functions have still got to be performed, unless like the regional strategies they are being abolished. Secondly, whilst developers and landowners will welcome improvements at the Environment Agency and Natural England the main issue for planning and property is going to be the abolition of the RDAs and the shape of the Local Enterprise Partnerships. Announcements on that are expected imminently. The content of the Communities and Localism Bill is important there. The word on the street is that we shall see that on 18th November.
Here's the link to the quango list.