MP Nick Herbert backs bill protecting neighbourhood plans

DM15221901a.jpg MP Nick Herbert is supporting a Parliamentray Bill which aims to protect neighbourhood plans. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160622-115719003
DM15221901a.jpg MP Nick Herbert is supporting a Parliamentray Bill which aims to protect neighbourhood plans. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160622-115719003

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has co-sponsored a Parliamentary Bill to give neighbourhood plans more protection from speculative planning applications by developers.

The Private Member’s Bill, which was introduced in the Commons by Conservative MP John Howells on Tuesday December 4, aims to limit the grounds of appeal against decisions on planning applications when the proposed development is inconsistent with a neighbourhood or local plan.

Concerns have been raised, including by Mr Herbert, that neighbourhood plans are being undermined by developers, even when the plans are passed in a local referendum.

Mr Herbert said: “I was delighted to co-sponsor this bill. We need to give greater protection to neighbourhood plans, which give communities more control over development and actually produce more housing than expected by consent.”

Mr Herbert has won greater protections for neighbourhood plans but has argued that further measures are needed, warning that public support for the plans, which are produced by volunteers, is damaged when they are subverted by developers. As well as giving local communities a voice in the planning process, neighbourhood plans typically provide for some 10 per cent more housing than originally envisaged.

Last week Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee rejected an application by Rydon Homes for a housing development in Hassocks which fell outside the village’s draft neighbourhood plan.

Mr Herbert had written to the council urging them to uphold the planning process.

Mr Howell, who was government champion for neighbourhood plans, told the Commons: “I want to reassure communities that neighbourhood plans are fundamental documents and that the effort made in producing them is worthwhile.

“The bill would provide that, where a district or parish has taken control of the planning requirements in their area, that view is an important and determining one for taking applications forward.”

The bill received an unopposed first reading in the Commons but with no parliamentary time allocated it is unlikely to make further progress. MPs will now persuade government to adopt its measures.