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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords approve government changes

Words: Laura Edgar
Delivering housing / iStock-166225668

A number of amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill have been agreed in the House of Lords, including some ‘minor and technical’ ones suggested by the government.

The first of four committee stage sessions in the House of Lords saw Baroness Cumberlege (Con) seek to make a number of amendments.

This included inserting before clause 1 the “Duty to uphold neighbourhood development plans”, which could only be overridden “in exceptional circumstances of national importance,”, which she said included HS2.

Cumberlege said: “The purpose of my amendment is to delineate between the responsibilities of central government and those of the local planning authorities. The secretary of state is responsible for strategy and local authorities for implementing the strategy.”

In response to the amendment, Baroness Andrews (Lab) said she was worried about the phrase “except in exceptional circumstances of national importance”.

She said this case can always be made, especially in terms of housing.  

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab) said the amendment would be helpful as it “enhances the status of a plan but also provides for changes to be made if deemed necessary” and came out in support of it.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, assured Cumberlege that the government is approaching the bill “in the spirit of wanting to ensure that neighbourhood forums, parish councils and local people are fully engaged in the process”

But he said this would happen more likely through planning guidance and asked Cumberlege to withdraw her amendment, stating that the government “do not” want it.

Baroness Cumberlege withdrew the amendment. “I will read Hansard and hold feet to the fire to be absolutely certain that the assurances given are kept. I am sure my noble friend has huge integrity and will live up to them. I thank noble Lords for their support and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.”

Bourne said government amendments 2, 3 and 4 were “minor and technical amendments” to Clause 1. They would require decision-makers to have regard to post-examination neighbourhood plans.

He explained that the amendments clarify the definition of a “post-examination” neighbourhood plan to “ensure that it applies to those plans which progress through the new modification procedure set out in Clause 3 and that it continues to apply during the period between a decision being taken that a referendum is to be held on a plan and the plan becoming part of the development plan”.

All three amendments were agreed.

Amendment 6 was also moved by Bourne, and subsequently agreed. It would require neighbourhood planning bodies to be notified when planning applications are submitted and concern their area.

Amendments, 6B, 8-8A, 9-11 were not moved.

Amendments 5, 6A, 7, 12 and 13 were withdrawn.

An amended clause 1 was agreed, while clause 2, 3, 4, 5 were agreed.

The House of Lords will meet today (2 February) to discuss further amendments.

The full transcript of the session can be found here.

Read more about the Neighbourhood Planning Bill:

Neighbourhood Planning Bill launched

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Reaction

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Building should start as soon as possible after permission granted

Neighbourhood Planning Bill update

Amendments to Neighbourhood Planning Bill sought

Barwell clarifies policy on neighbourhood plans and lack of housing land

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

RTPI publishes Neighbourhood Planning Bill brief

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords express concerns about planning conditions measures

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