On the 12th of December the Minister of State for Housing & Planning, Gavin Barwell, made a written statement about Neighbourhood Plans.
Supply of deliverable housing sites
“The Government confirms that where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted.” and then goes on to explain that sometimes Neighbourhood Plans are “undermined because their local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites”.
He says …
“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that where communities plan for housing in their area in a neighbourhood plan, those plans should not be deemed to be out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area.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for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan, that is part of the development plan, should not be deemed to be ‘out-of-date’ under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made: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.”
Although the statement appears very positive, my personal opinion (and I’m no expert) is that 2 years is a remarkably short time before something becomes out-of-date.
A New Neighbourhood Planning Bill
The statement goes on to explain:
“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 will be interesting to see where the new Bill takes us. There is information on its progress at Parliament’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 web page.
Mind the Gap
The statement says:
“On 7 July 2016, my Rt Hon Friend, the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), extended for a period of 6 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.”
This isn’t going to win any prizes for plain English so I hope I’ve got this right. Essentially “recovery of planning appeals” means that when a developer appeals against a decision made by the local authority, the Secretary of State makes the final decision rather than the Inspector. The statement deals with the gap between the qualifying body (group who created the plan) submitting it to the local authority and it being put into force after a “yes” in a referendum. The different steps are explained in Creating the Plan.