More than 240 delegates attended the annual planning briefing at Lancashire County Cricket Ground, organised by HOW Planning, Addleshaw Goddard and Regeneris.
The potential conflict between central politics and local planning was one of the key issues raised at the 2013 Planning Briefing.
Gary Halman, partner at HOW Planning, chaired the event which brought together speakers Steve Quartermain, chief planner at the Department for Communities & Local Government; Andrew Whittaker, planning director at the Home Builders Federation; and Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation.
Christopher Katkowski QC at Landmark Chambers, and Grant Anderson, planning and environmental partner at Addleshaw Goddard, also spoke at the event, which provided a chance for developers, land owners, home builders and planning officers to hear about how the localism agenda has progressed since it was introduced three years ago.
Quartermain told the audience there had been a "clear ambition from the Government to change the system" and make it fit for purpose, but both Whittaker and Peace questioned whether the Government was changing its mind on Localism, with the latter suggesting there was "flip flopping" indecision over whether to set a central agenda or to leave it to local communities.
Halman added: "We have run this event for more than 10 years now and it's become an established part of the North West's planning scene. The quality of the speakers- all top of their field at a national level- and the lively debate that their presentations generated show that once again the Briefing hit a topical note."
One area that all speakers agreed on was the need for developers to emphasise the huge economic benefits that housing and development can bring. Developers were urged to demonstrate the importance of economic benefits and help communities understand how far reaching they can be; giving them similar significance to more traditional benefits such as transport and infrastructure.