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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: CPRE's response

This week the government published the first draft of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, putting in place proposals to meet their commitment as set out in the Queen’s Speech in May to “further strengthen neighbourhood planning and give even more power to local people … by making the local government duty to support groups more transparent and by improving the process for reviewing and updating plans”.

The Bill also includes measures to reduce the use of unreasonable conditions on the grant of planning permission and to further streamline processes for compulsory purchase.

The Queen’s Speech had stated that the Bill would also include proposals regarding the National Infrastructure Commission and the Land Registry, but these will now be addressed separately.

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

“CPRE welcomes those parts of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill that will make it quicker and easier for communities to get their aspirations for the future of their neighbourhood in place, and allow communities to update or amend their plans without having to start from scratch.

“Proposals to make clear the support local planning authorities are required to offer neighbourhood planning groups are also welcome. But, to ensure communities actually receive the support they are entitled to, this needs to be backed up with a radical increase in resources for town hall planning departments.

“Many communities are put off going to the great effort and expense of preparing a neighbourhood plan because they do not believe that their aspirations will be upheld by decision makers when planning applications are submitted, especially while the neighbourhood plan is being prepared. CPRE, alongside Civic Voice and the National Association of Local Councils, worked hard to address this during the passage of the Housing and Planning Bill (now Act) through Parliament. While the particular proposals that we promoted were opposed by the Government, ministers said they recognised and wished to respond to the problem that we were trying to address.

“It is therefore disappointing that the Neighbourhood Planning Bill proposes little or no action in this regard, and CPRE, with its partners, will therefore be lobbying for further measures to be included in the Bill.

“CPRE will be checking the detail of the remainder of the Bill’s proposals around planning conditions and compulsory purchase with regard to any potential for harmful impacts on the English countryside. We are pleased that consideration of the future of the National Infrastructure Commission and the Land Registry are now to be considered separately, enabling all these disparate issues to be given the attention that they deserve rather than being lumped in together haphazardly. We look forward to seeing an Infrastructure Bill being presented to the House in the near future.”

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