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CPRE urges MPs to back neighbourhood right of appeal

3 May 2016

CPRE is today urging MPs to back a Lords amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill that would introduce a neighbourhood right of appeal. A neighbourhood right of appeal would engage local people in planning and encourage communities to support neighbourhood plans, which the Government has shown increase plans for housebuilding by more than 10%.

During report stage in the House of Lords, peers from across the House backed Baroness Parminter’s amendment to the Housing Bill that sought to establish a limited neighbourhood right of appeal. This would have ensured that communities who had produced, or nearly completed, a neighbourhood plan could appeal against planning permissions that were granted by the local council even when conflicting with that neighbourhood plan.

On Friday 29 April, however, the Government illustrated its intention to reject the amendment. Instead, Ministers have proposed an alternative amendment that requries reports on decisions to refer to in-force neighbourhood plans.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England believes that the Government amendment fails to give communities the reassurances they deserve, and asks little more of planners and councils than current regulations. Furthermore, CPRE believes that the terminology employed in the Government amendment will actually weaken neighbourhood planning rather than strengthen it.

The amendment is due to be debated today (Tuesday 3 May) with the Bill returning to the House of Commons. CPRE is urging MPs to back the principles of the originally-proposed right of appeal, and reject the Government’s own amendment.

Matt Thomson, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE):

On the Government amendment

“This hopelessly weak amendment is no substitute for a proper right of appeal, and actually weakens rather than strengthens the neighbourhood planning process.

“Any good planning officer would already refer to the neighbourhood plan in their reports, so it is hard to see what positive difference this requirement would make. But in removing references to emerging plans, the Government risks allowing councils and developers to ride roughshod over the positive efforts of local communities.

“The Lords amendment sought to ensure that emerging neighbourhood plans were afforded weight in decisions, to discourage developers from putting in heaps of unwanted, speculative applications while plans were waiting to be finalised. Yet the Government amendment suggests that councils will only refer to neighbourhood plans that are in force.”

In general

“The whole point of neighbourhood plans is to put more confidence into local planning. In reducing the strength of neighbourhood plans, this amendment will do the opposite. This is a huge missed opportunity to entrench neighbourhood planning and get local people behind development in their towns and villages.”

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