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NALC meets housing minister

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The chairman of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) met the housing minister, Kit Malthouse MP, to press for neighbourhood planning to be strengthened including giving greater protection for neighbourhood plans.

During the meeting held in the House of Commons, NALC’s chairman Cllr Sue Baxter:

  • welcomed the minister’s engagement with NALC and the Hampshire Association of Local Councils, in particular through Lobby Day, and outlined the important role of local (parish and town) councils in building strong communities and potential to help the government and the country tackle the challenges it faces, including housing
  • went on to tell the minister – elected to Parliament in 2015 and appointed housing minister in July 2018 – that to make the most of this opportunity the sector would need help from principal councils and government, particularly through the Comprehensive Spending Review
  • reiterated that NALC is a longstanding supporter of neighbourhood planning – with 14 million people now living in areas with a neighbourhood plan – but wants neighbourhood plans to be given more weight and protection, highlighting the Where next for neighbourhood plans? report which had previously been sent to the minister
  • pressed for greater involvement in the support programme run by Locality, and for this to be opened as soon as possible, but also requested parallel direct work with NALC and county associations to promote and support neighbourhood planning

Writing for NALC’s quarterly journal LCR, the minister has thanked NALC and its members “for the contributions you have made to supporting communities in getting neighbourhood plans in place” and indicated he will be looking into how the Government could strengthen and protect neighbourhood plans.”

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “NALC has long supported neighbourhood planning and I’m delighted so many local (parish and town) councils are using their community leadership role to make use of this localism tool to shape and influence development and plan for the future of their community. This was a timely, positive and constructive meeting with the housing minister given the government have publicly stated their belief in neighbourhood planning and are reflecting on how to make it stronger. I have offered the minister my support and help to refresh and rejuvenate neighbourhood planning, including finding ways to make the process easier and increase take-up, but crucially to give greater protection to neighbourhood plans.”

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