The Department for Communities and Local Government has responded to the recent national Petition to “Give communities back the right to decide where houses are built.” It rejects the Petition's request that calls "for a parliamentary debate on government Housing and Planning policy over building on greenfield land and seeks community right of appeal on planning decisions and the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development."
It is worth reading because, by omission, the Government still refuses to close the dangerous NPPF loopholes that permit speculative Development, and the response's wording fails to address the use of Inspectors to over-ride well founded local concerns.
Most troubling of all is the Government's complete failure to recognize that Local Authorities, such as our own Havant Borough Council, insist that if they don't find somewhere to build the Government directed housing quota - even on our few remaining green fields which have, conveniently, never been labelled 'Green Belt' - they will be open to a Government appointed Inspector finding in favour of a Developer's Appeal. This has indeed happened both on Hayling a few years ago and in Havant last year.
This is the text that everyone should be aware of:
"Local communities are not forced to accept large housing developments. Communities are consulted throughout the Local Plan process and on individual planning applications.
The National Planning Policy Framework strongly encourages all local planning authorities to get up-to-date Local Plans in place as soon as possible, in consultation with the local community. Up-to-date Local Plans ensure that communities get the right development, in the right place, at the right time, reflecting the principles of sustainable development. Through the White Paper we are ensuring that every part of the country produces, maintains and implements an up-to-date plan, yet with the flexibility for local areas to decide how to plan in a way that best meets their needs.
A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made.
The Framework recognises the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. That is why our proposals are focussed on development in built up areas.
We are also absolutely clear that Green Belt must be protected and that there are other areas that local authorities must pursue first, such as brownfield land and taking steps to increase density on urban sites. The Government is committed to maximising the use of brownfield land and has already embarked on an ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use.
We believe that developers should mitigate the impacts of development. This is vital to make it acceptable to the local community and to addresses the cumulative impact of development in an area. Both the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 agreements can be used by local planning authorities to help fund supporting infrastructure and address the cumulative demand that development places on infrastructure. Through the White Paper, the Government announced that it will examine the options for reforming the existing system of developer contributions to see how this can be simplified, with further announcements at Autumn Budget 2017.
The £2.3billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will deliver up to 100,000 new homes by putting in the right infrastructure, in the right place, at the right time. We expect the fund to be able to deliver a variety of types of infrastructure necessary to unlock housing growth in high demand areas.
There is nothing automatic about grants of planning permission where there is not yet an up-to-date Local Plan. It is still up to local decision-makers to interpret and apply national policy to local circumstances, alongside the views of the local community. Applications should not be approved if the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits; or if specific policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted.
Communities are also able to make representations on individual planning applications and in response to most appeals by the applicant against a local authority decision. Interested parties can raise all the issues that concern them during the planning process, in the knowledge that the decision maker will take their views into account, along with other material considerations, in reaching a decision.
We therefore do not believe a right of appeal against the grant of planning permission for communities is necessary. It is considered that communities already have plenty of opportunity to have their say on local planning issues, and it would be wrong for them to be able to delay a development at the last minute, through a community right of appeal, when any issues they would raise at that point could have been raised and should have been considered during the earlier planning application process."
Department for Communities and Local Government
Click this link to view the response online:
The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee