TOWN and villages which have produced neighbourhood plans should be able to appeal against planning applications that conflict
TOWN and villages which have produced neighbourhood plans should be able to appeal against planning applications that conflict with them, says John Howell.
The Henley MP said communities should have a right of appeal against proposed developments once their plan had been passed by a referendum but not if it was still being written.
This power was not included in the 2011 Localism Act, which introduced neighbourhood planning and Mr Howell helped to draw up.
Speaking in a Commons debate on the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill, he said: “The end point of the neighbourhood plan process is the community referendum. This gives it democratic legitimacy. Some communities start a plan then choose to abandon it for a variety of reasons. If emerging plans had a level of protection, the fact that a community said it was continuing with one when it had abandoned it could sterilise an area from development for years to come.
“These plans are a community sharing in the development of their communities for years. The closer they get to finalisation, the more weight they carry.’
Planning minister Brandon Lewis said: “A ‘made’ neighbourhood plan is a clear indication of a community’s vision for its local area and it should be respected as such.
“I would expect local authorities and the Planning Inspectorate to give due weight to neighbourhood plans as they progress towards adoption. Neighbourhoods have the ultimate say with their referendum. Their views must be considered when decisions are taken on applications.
“The Bill speeds up and simplifies that neighbourhood planning process, which underlines the importance we place on it.’
Neighbourhood plans name the sites where homes should go within parishes to meet government targets. Once they pass a referendum, they become legally binding.
Woodcote’s plan was approved in 2014 while Henley and Harspden’s joint neighbourhood plan will go to a referendum this spring.
Benson has recently revived its bid to produce a plan while Goring, Sonning Common, Watlington and Whitchurch are all writing one.