A cross political party group of Peers won the fight for the introduction of a new limited neighbourhood right of appeal.
This new right will go into the Housing and Planning Bill. This was further supported by a powerful alliance of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Civic Voice.
The group of Peers (led by Baroness Parminter, Lord Kennedy, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, president of NALC, and Lord Best) along with the campaign alliance organisations believe that for communities that draw up neighbourhood plans to have a more effective say over the way their local areas are developed they should have a right to appeal over any development that conflicts with those plans. It must be remembered that plans for house building are more than 10% higher in the first areas with a neighbourhood plan, as opposed to those with only the planning authorities’ local plan.
The incentive for a community to go to the effort required to produce a neighbourhood can be severely hampered if it can be trampled on or ignored when planning authorities make decisions on applications. The only opportunity to challenge these decisions would be thoroughly costly judicial reviews.
That is why it is correct that this ‘right to appeal’ was written into the Housing and Planning Bill.
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “There are too many examples of local communities who have worked hard to agree a neighbourhood plan only to see their efforts swept aside when developers get permission for housing that conflicts with that plan.
“Neighbourhood plans are the best planning innovation for many years. They are resulting in much more house building and much less aggro about development. But communities will only go to the effort of working on them, coming to difficult decisions about where new housing should go, if they have some protection from speculative planning applications.
“It is therefore very welcome that peers from across the House have joined in supporting this amendment. I hope that the Government will listen. This amendment is good for democracy and good for house building.”
Freddie Glick, chair of Civic Voice said: “A neighbourhood right of appeal, appropriately defined, will help to give people greater confidence that their involvement in the planning system is worthwhile, by encouraging development in line with locally defined objectives. Experience shows that such an approach need not be anti-development but can help get the right kind of development in the right place, something we all want.”
NALC chairman, Cllr Ken Browse said: “The voice of local people through the local (town and parish) councils should always be at the heart of planning. To some extent this is being achieved through the statutory neighbourhood plans. But communities via these local councils feel that their planning demands are being ignored and there is still the potential for developers to try and ride roughshod against the neighbourhood plan. So this ‘neighbourhood right of appeal’ would stop this planning injustice”.