Plans to reform the housing and planning system have been welcomed by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) however England’s communities body has called for the creation of more local councils to help tackle the housing crisis and put local people more in control of planning decisions.
Responding this week to the government’s long-awaited white paper on housing, the national body representing 10,000 local councils and 80,000 councillors highlight the leading role being played by grassroots councils in neighbourhood planning, calling for the whole country to be ‘parished’ to boost engagement with local people over future development including housing.
Key points of NALC’s submission to the consultation from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) include:
Neighbourhood planning is being used by local councils not only to shape and influence development in their area but also to increase housing and affordable housing, help communities become more resilient and support economic development, as well as strengthening local democracy as the process is leading to more people standing for election to their local council.
While we are supportive of many proposed measures outlined in the Housing White Paper, we do not support the proposed definition of affordable housing or recommendations to replace the Community Infrastructure Levy (CiL).
We want to see the white paper’s proposals go further with new measures to accelerate, incentivise and support neighbourhood planning, as well as giving communities more rights within the planning process, improving financial benefits from development and further strengthening of local democracy.
Chairman of NALC, Cllr Sue Baxter said: “We welcome the opportunity to respond to this important white paper and contribute to housing and planning proposals and reforms as local councils play such an important role in communities especially in neighbourhood planning.
“It is local councils that are at the heart of and driving forward the neighbourhood planning revolution and making it such a success story, with around 90% of over 2,000 communities developing a neighbourhood plan being led by England’s most local level of democracy.
“Given their closeness to the local community and engagement with local people, local councils play an important role helping to shape and influence local development plans, commenting on planning applications and producing design statements, neighbourhood plans and neighbourhood development orders.
“We want work with the next government to build a housing and planning system that helps, rather than hinders, local communities and local councils and meets their local housing needs.
“But not everywhere has a local council to give local people a voice and structure for taking action on local issues such as influencing future development including housing. Great strides forward have been taken in recent years to make it easier to set up local councils, but now is the time to parish all of England and genuinely put communities more in control of decisions affecting their areas.
“We know all parties share our views on the important role local councils play in their areas, both now and in the future, and it is vital the next government works with us to deliver on our ambitions for localism and neighbourhood planning.”