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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Barwell assures MPs new guidance addresses their concerns

Words: Laura Edgar
Neighbourhood planning

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell has assured MPs that his recent ministerial statement addresses a number of concerns they have about the Neighbourhood Planning Bill.

Barwell made the assurances yesterday (13 December) during the report stage of the bill in the House of Commons.

The ministerial statement was published yesterday, a day after a number of amendments were tabled.

These included one that would mean local planning authorities would be required to consult neighbourhood planning bodies on decisions to grant planning permissions. Additionally, they should have regard to the "desirability of upholding the policies and proposals" contained in the neighbourhood development plans, among other requirements.

A further amendment sought to ensure that the bill “specify that neighbourhood plans should be taken into account notwithstanding the lack of a five-year supply of housing land”.

The Planner reported that the direction stated that relevant policies for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan that is part of a development plan “should not be deemed ‘out of date’ under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework” (NPPF). This applies under three circumstances that arise at the same time, including when the local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

Barwell said measures outlined in the ministerial statement will address concerns raised by the MPs.

“The NPPF already says clearly that, where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted. The issue here is that, where a local planning authority does not have a five-year land supply, that is not a normal circumstance and the presumption in favour of development in some cases - not all - overrides neighbourhood plans.”

He said his ministerial statement “will give a degree of protection that has not been available”.

“The message needs to go out clearly from this House that local authorities must get up-to-date plans in place to provide that protection for neighbourhood plans. I hope that that reassures people,” Barwell said.

Barwell added that if the amendment seeking to ensure neighbourhood planning forums and parish councils are told about a planning application in their area was removed he “would seek to insert it into the bill in the Lords”.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill now moves to the House of Lords.

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