MPs to consider bill to limit appeals on applications inconsistent with neighbourhood plans
MPs are to consider a bill which will limit planning appeals on applications inconsistent with neighbourhood plans. The bill would ban the right to appeal against refusals of applications that go against a neighbourhood plan and a local plan, if the local authority has an adequate housing land supply.
Earlier this month the bill received its first reading in the House of Commons, introduced by Conservative MP John Howell; author of the Conservative’s Open Source Planning paper back in 2010 which paved the way for the introduction of the neighbourhood planning system.
The MP for Henley said that “where there is a robust five-year housing land supply in place”, or a three-year housing land supply where appropriate, and both an approved neighbourhood plan and local plan and an application is refused because it is contrary to the neighbourhood plan, the developer “would have no right of appeal”.
However, where the local authority makes procedural errors in its decision, the developer would be allowed to judicially review the decision. It would also be allowed to appeal as normal if there was an approved neighbourhood and local plan, but the council did not have a five or three-year housing land supply, he added.
Howell went on to say: “I am introducing this Bill to try to provide reassurance to communities who spend considerable amounts of time and money producing a neighbourhood plan that their work is valued, that it plays an important part in the planning system and the determination of planning applications, and that, together with the local plan produced by the district or borough council, it is a fundamental document”, he said.
Howell said that in a village called Sonning Common, in his Henley constituency, the local community and district council were reported to have spent £90,000 defending the village’s new neighbourhood plan against an appeal. The subject of the appeal was an application for 95 dwellings on a site where the neighbourhood plan had designated just 26.
He said: “Why the application was able to be taken to appeal is part of the reason for the bill. The application was inconsistent with the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan and there were no mitigating circumstances. “The question we have to ask is: why was the existence of the neighbourhood plan not sufficient?”
Howell said that the bill would help “return real democracy to the towns and villages of this country”; could “make the allocation of land for more houses more attractive to towns and villages, because they will be protected from rapacious interests”; and “encourage communities to prepare plans, including local district and borough councils, and to support neighbourhood plans”.
The next stage for the bill, its second reading, is scheduled to take place on Friday 25 January 2019.