Sir Nicholas Soames makes a brief intervention during the Remaining Stages of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill in support of Nick Herbert’s amendment which Sir Nicholas co-sponsored.
I have been bullied by the Whips into making only a very short intervention, so I am not able to expand on the extensive views that I wished to favour the House with. However, I thought that I should not let the moment pass without my thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) for his immensely touching description of betting shops which, as we all know, are havens of peace, tranquillity, excitement and—
Yes, virtue. They are great places to be, and they make a tremendous and important contribution to the money-lending business. I say to my hon. Friend that he was extremely patronising about my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) who, like myself, has probably spent many, many happy hours in gambling shops, as my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley knows I have. I have nothing but the very highest opinion of them. My hon. Friend gave us a particularly touching exposition and I hope the House will pay no attention to it. I thank my hon. Friend the Housing and Planning Minister for his courtesy, kindness and consideration, and for the immense efforts he makes on behalf of all of us to try to ensure that we have a fair planning system in this country.
I, of course, support amendment 28, which was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for the imperial town of Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell). I am delighted that he will not pressing it to a Division, but I am completely on his side and thought he made a powerful case. The decision that his constituents have had to cope with is certainly very unpleasant.
I am really speaking to support my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert), who is my close friend and parliamentary neighbour. He and I are currently struggling as Mid Sussex District Council is undergoing an examination in public. As my hon. Friend the Minister knows, Mid Sussex has made 14 parish and town council plans, which is something of a record. That is an extraordinary achievement. The local communities have worked immensely hard, with great credibility and integrity, only to find that all their efforts are constantly undermined and challenged by the most unscrupulous building lobby it has ever been my pleasure to have to deal with.
At the examination in public, at which my right hon. Friend and I appeared on the second day, I was astonished to see the range of what the builders produced. They had bogus development forums that had been rushed together to try to present them as reputable. Their lobbying is aggressive and, in my view, totally unacceptable. Even our local enterprise partnership is chaired by a builder. They seek to interfere, very unhelpfully, in the work of the planning authorities.
The hon. Friend the Minister knows of the infamous application by Mayfield Market Towns to build a completely unwanted new settlement to the south of my constituency and partially in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs. It has been turned down time after time. No one wants it and it is not in any plan, yet the builders continue to chip away at the fabric, integrity and credibility of the plans.
In supporting the very sound and sensible new clauses tabled by my right hon. Friend, all I wish to say to the Minister is that I hope he understands that councils such as Mid Sussex are fighting a losing battle. There need to be clear rules and a clear understanding that there is a spirit that is entered into, because at the moment the house builders act quite outside the spirit and intention of the law. As my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Antoinette Sandbach) said in her excellent speech, it is quite unacceptable that all this hard work is undone by some completely unacceptable lobbying.
Tuesday 13th December, 2016
No 80. Col 719-720
Sir Nicholas welcomes statement by the Minister for Housing and Planning on ‘Neighbourhood Planning.’
12 December 2016
Neighbourhood planning was introduced by the Localism Act 2011, and is an important part of the Government’s manifesto commitment to let local people have more say on local planning. With over 230 neighbourhood plans in force and many more in preparation, they are already a well- established part of the English planning system. Recent analysis suggests that giving people more control over development in their area is helping to boost housing supply—those plans in force that plan for a housing number have on average planned for approximately 10% more homes than the number for that area set out by the relevant local planning authority.
The Government confirm that where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted. However, communities who have been proactive and worked hard to bring forward neighbourhood plans are often frustrated that their plan is being undermined because their local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites.
This is because Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date, and housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
As more communities take up the opportunity to shape their area we need to make sure planning policy is suitable for a system with growing neighbourhood plan coverage. Building on proposals to further strengthen neighbourhood planning through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, I am today making clear that where communities plan for housing in their area in a neighbourhood plan, those plans should not be deemed to be out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area. We are also offering those communities who brought forward their plans in advance of this statement time to review their plans.
This means that relevant policies for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan that is part of the development plan should not be deemed to be “out-of-date” under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made:
This written ministerial statement is less than 2 years old, or the neighbourhood plan has been part of the development plan for 2 years or less;
the neighbourhood plan allocates sites for housing; and
the local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites.
This statement applies to decisions made on planning applications and appeals from today. This statement should be read in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework and is a material consideration in relevant planning decisions.
My Department will be bringing forward a White Paper on Housing in due course. Following consultation, we anticipate the policy for neighbourhood planning set out in this statement will be revised to reflect policy brought forward to ensure new neighbourhood plans meet their fair share of local housing need and housing is being delivered across the wider local authority area. It is, however, right to take action now to protect communities who have worked hard to produce their neighbourhood plan and find the housing supply policies are deemed to be out-of-date through no fault of their own.
On 7 July 2016, my right hon. Friend, the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), extended for a period of six months the criteria for consideration of the recovery of planning appeals to include proposals for residential development over 25 dwellings in areas where a qualifying body has submitted a neighbourhood plan proposal to the local planning authority but the relevant plan has not been made (Hansard HCWS74). In order to allow time for the Neighbourhood Planning Bill to complete its passage through Parliament, and in the light of other potential policy changes currently under consideration, I am now extending that period for a further six months from today.