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Localism and Big Society

The references below are arranged alphabetically by publisher. Links to relevant websites can be found towards the bottom of the page.

Click on the Localism and Big Society heading in the Popular topics box on the right of the page for other references.

This page was updated on 16 July 2014.


Department for Communities and Local Government

A plain English guide to the Localism Bill: Update

November 2011

This document describes the main measures of the Localism Act under four headings: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective; and reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.


Department for Communities and Local Government

Decentralisation and the Localism Bill: an essential guide

December 2010

This guide describes the main measures of the Localism Bill under four headings: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic; and more effective reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally. The document also explains how the principles that underpin the Localism Bill also inform other government policies.


Department for Communities and Local Government

Government response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s Report: Localism

September 2011

This Command Paper contains the Government’s formal response to the recommendations and conclusions set out in the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on Localism.


Department for Communities and Local Government

Guidance on community action during severe weather: The Big Society in action

December 2010


Department for Communities and Local Government

A plain English guide to the Localism Bill: update

June 2011

This guide describes the main measures of the Localism Bill under four headings: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective; and reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.


Department for Communities and Local Government

Pre-application consultation with communities: a basic guide

February 2011

This short guide explains the Localism Bill duty imposed on developers to consult with local communities prior to submitting certain types of planning application. It sets out how the provision will work in practice and seeks views on which applications to which it should apply.


English Historic Towns Forum

The Big Society and Localism – Rhetoric or reality?

February 2011


House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee

Sustainable development in the Localism Bill

March 2011

Report from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee on the findings of its inquiry into the extent to which sustainable development is embedded in the Government’s planning reforms in the Localism Bill.


House of Commons, Communities and Local Government Committee


June 2011


House of Commons Research Library

Localism Bill: Committee Stage Report (Research Paper 11/32)

April 2011


House of Commons Research Library

Neighbourhood planning in Localism Bill

This note, published by the House of Commons Library, outlines provisions for neighbourhood planning in the Localism Bill.


Housing Forum

Practical responses to Localism

This is one of a series of “Skills Summits” held by the Housing Forum on 19 January 2011. The subject was practical responses to localism. The presentations from the Summit, together with a summary of some of the questions and answers which came up in discussion are available online, together with PRP Architects’ briefing note on localism.


Institute for Public Policy Research

Five foundations of real localism

November 2010

On the eve of the publication of the Localism Bill, this short paper provides a set of principles against which the anticipated raft of localist policy measures can be assessed. It argues that there are five key foundations for real localism, and that unless measures within the Bill address each in a meaningful and effective manner, any serious attempt to decentralise England is likely to be seriously flawed.


UK Parliament

Localism Bill

Outlines the progress of the Bill through Parliament.


UK Parliament

Localism Act 2011

November 2011


UK Parliament

Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012

March 2012

Other references


Action for Market Towns

Making the most of community led planning: a best practice guide for local authorities


This best practice guide from Action for Market Towns offers local authorities an insight into how community action can be kick-started to take advantage of the new rights that will become available to them through the Localism Bill.


David Barrie and Associates

‘Open source’ place making: A collective approach to the development of cities in an age of Big Society, digital media and social enterprise



Berwin Leighton Paisner

Planning and localism: Too much too soon?

October 2011


Campaign to Protect Rural England

Communities, planning and localism

June 2011

This report draws out key points from a study commissioned early in 2011 by CPRE Gloucestershire. The project brief was to contribute to the unfolding government policy on localism by reviewing the effectiveness of community involvement in neighbourhood planning in the area of Parish Plans and Village Design Statements.


Civic Voice

Civic societies and localism. Report of a civic volunteer’s workshop and presentation to Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark MP



Community Land Trusts

Community Land Trusts Annual Conference 2011. London, 10 May 2011

Jointly organised by the Community Land Trusts Network and its host organisation, the National Housing Federation, the conference focused on the ‘big opportunity’ for CLTs with the Localism Bill and the wider interest in communities to take control. Sessions during the day covered a range of hot topics, including community energy, food and farming initiatives, innovative approaches to funding and finance, partnering with housing associations, urban CLTs, other forms of community-led housing. Presentations and videos are available online.



A little local difficulty: The challenge of making localism work

January 2011


Department for Communities and Local Government

Department for Communities and Local Government Structural Refrom Plan

March 2011

This new action plan marks a radical shift of power from Whitehall to local councils and communities that will make the Big Society part of every day life. The plan sets out a new 18 month programme for the department that will deliver radical decentralising and transparency reforms that put citizens and councils in control of their communities. It is one of the first fundamental Structural Reform Plans for making departments accountable for the implementation of the reforms set out in the Coalition agreement.


Department for Communities and Local Government

Building active safer communities: Strong foundations by local people

February 2012


Economic and Social Research Council

A big society in Yorkshire & Humber?

December 2010


Green Alliance

Is localism delivering for climate change? Emerging responses from local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and neighbourhood plans


This report explores the impacts of the coalition’s localism agenda on climate change action. It asks: Are local authorities continuing to work on climate change? How is action being encouraged? What potential do local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), local nature partnerships (LNPs) and neighbourhood plans have to strengthen local action on climate change?


Homes and Communities Agency

Working together: Delivering growth through localism

September 2011

This is a practitioners’ guide to the new policy landscape, bringing together the range of new initiatives and ideas created by the Localism agenda and the Government’s Plan for Growth.


House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee

The Big Society

December 2011

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee has published the findings of its inquiry into how the Big Society project is being implemented in practice.


Local Government Association

Doing something big: Building a better society together

July 2011

This report from the Local Government Group’s Big Society Task Force shows how democratically-elected local councillors are at the forefront of developing stronger, more empowered and more resilient communities.


New Economics Foundation

Cutting it: The ‘Big Society’ and the new austerity

November 2010


New Economics Foundation

Ten big questions about the big society

June 2010


Planning Advisory Service

Localism and the National Planning Policy Framework: some implications for local government

September 2011


Royal Institute of British Architects

Guide to localism: Opportunities for architects

October 2011

As the Localism Bill makes its final passage through Parliament, the RIBA has published two new guides for architects, outlining how the role of the architect can change under the new approach to planning and highlighting the crucial role that they have to play in helping communities understand the potential of their local built environment and prepare neighbourhood plans.

Guide to localism – Part 1: Neighbourhood planning

The first guide introduces the proposed changes to the planning system and outlines how this will affect architects, before highlighting how architects can use their design skills to get involved in the development of neighbourhood plans.

Guide to localism – Part 2: Getting community engagement right

The second guide shows how architects can enable local communities to participate fully in shaping the way their local area looks and feels, highlighting key principles of successful, meaningful engagement.


Smith Institute

Changing gear: is localism the new regionalism?

February 2012


Sustainable Development Commission

The future is local: Empowering communities to improve their neighbourhoods

July 2010


Town & Country Planning Association

Your place, your plan

March 2011


Other references: Articles


Simon Marvin & Simon Guy

Creating myths rather than sustainability : the transition fallacies of the new localism

Local_Environment Vol.2 no.3, 1997 pp.311-318

The authors critically examine six core myths which they believe underpin the idea that the local arena is more able to deliver a sustainable future than the national and international arena. They go on to sketch out some of their concerns about what is missing from the new localist understanding of environmental processes.


Dick Sorabji

The accidental renaissance of local government

Local Economy

Volume 20, Number 1, February 2005 pp.6-12

In July 2004, the Government launched a new policy for local governance – Local Area Agreements (LAA). In isolation it would appear that LAAs are likely to be no more than a welcome minor addition to local authority flexibility. Yet in five years it may come to be seen as the catalyst that began a renaissance in local civic pride and power. To understand why, it is first necessary to step back and review both the emerging contours of the ‘new localism’ debate and the dilemmas encountered by the Government in delivering its urban policy agenda. The LAA initiative, and its potential for re-invigorating local politics is then examined.


Steven Griggs and David Howarth

Populism, localism and environmental politics: the logic and rhetoric of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign

Planning Theory

Vol. 7, No. 2, 2008 pp.123-144

This article explores the intersection between environmental planning processes and political practices by analysing the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign to curtail the further development of Stansted Airport


John Fenwick, Janice McMillan and Howard Elcock

Local government and the problem of English governance

Local Government Studies

Volume 35, Issue 1, February 2009 pp.5-20

Considers the issues of localism and regionalism within the local government debate in England.



Lee Mallett

Opportunity knocks for ‘new planning’

Planning in London

October-December 2010 pp.28-30

The author believes that London’s Opportunity Areas could be an opportunity to pursue ‘localism’ and reinvigorate the planning system.


Gill Bentle, David Bailey and John Shutt

From RDAs to LEPs: A new localism? Case examples of West Midlands and Yorkshire

Local Economy

Volume 25, Issue 7, November 2010 pp.535-557

This article looks at the proposals for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the light of theories of governance.


Jeff Bishop

From parish plans to localism in England: Straight track or long and winding road?

Planning Practice and Research

Volume 25, Issue 5, October 2010 pp.611-624

As part of a broader ‘Localism’ agenda, the Coalition government elected in the UK in May 2010 was committed to introducing a new land-use planning system built mainly from the ‘bottom’ through the promotion of forms of community-led plans. Its approach was built heavily on the experience of parish and town plans in rural communities across England. This paper provides a background to, and a review of, key issues from the experience to date of rural community-led plans. It highlights challenges and opportunities for adapting these into a system based on the government’s developing approaches to localism and collaborative planning.


Prospects for a Big Society

People, Place and Policy

Vol.5 No.2, 2011

Whole issue devoted to the issue of the Big Society.


Rob Rowlands

Recognising ownership in regeneration: Developing a mutual neighbourhood

Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal

Vol.4 No.3, January-March 2011 pp.240-254

Considers the role of mutualism in delivering neighbourhood regeneration.


Chris Couch and Matthew Cocks

Underrated localism in urban regeneration: The case of Liverpool, a shrinking city

Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal

Vol.4 No.3, January-March 2011 pp.279-292

This paper discusses the concept of shrinking cities, and places the UK in a European and global context. The case of Liverpool illustrates that local mobilisation has been a significant factor.


David Farnsworth

A network route to localism in planning

Town & Country Planning

March 2011 pp.128-132

The author explains how front-line community involvement in planning, of the kind envisaged in the Localism Bill, has developed in Bristol through the creation and operation of a voluntary Neighbourhood Planning Network.


Andy Westwood

Localism, social capital and the Big Society

Local Economy

Vol.26 No.8, December 2011 pp.690-701

This article explores the rationale for and interconnections between the coalition government’s objectives for the Big Society , localism and a rebalanced economy .


Other references: Events


Big Society: a critical reappraisal. London, 12 December 2011

This seminar looked at the Coalition Government and the Big Society policy agenda. It aimed to review the impact of Big Society politics and policies eighteen months on from the 2010 election – in particular focusing upon the implications of the Big Society for third sector practice and the relationships between third sector organisations and the state. Presentations are available online.


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