Sophie Barnes of Inside Housing writes;
“Communities with a Neighbourhood Plan will be able to block housing developments even if their local council does not have an up-to-date five-year housing land supply, the housing minister has announced.
In a written statement this week, Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing, said communities with a Neighbourhood Plan are “often frustrated” that their plan is “undermined” when a local council does not have an up-to-date five-year housing land supply.
Under current planning rules permission should be granted for housing developments, even if they conflict with a council’s Local Plan, if the council does not have an up-to-date five-year housing land supply. Permission should only be rejected if the negatives of a development significantly outweigh the positives.
Mr Barwell said areas with no five-year housing land supply would be able to block development that conflicts with the Neighbourhood Plan. Neighbourhood Plans allocate sites for housing developments, and also specify where housing should not be built.
He added: “As more communities take up the opportunity to shape their area, we need to make sure planning policy is suitable for a system with growing Neighbourhood Plan coverage. Building on proposals to further strengthen neighbourhood planning through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, I am today making clear that where communities plan for housing in their area in a Neighbourhood Plan, those plans should not be deemed to be out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area.”
This new rule will apply immediately. To be eligible, a Neighbourhood Plan must be less than two years old, have allocated sites for housing and the council has to have demonstrated it has a three-year supply of sites for housing.
Communities who have already published their plans will be given time to review them in light of the new rule.
In a debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill yesterday, Mr Barwell said he had written to the chief inspector of the Planning Inspectorate and planning officers drawing their attention to this change in planning policy.”
Mr Barwell added that there are over 230 Neighbourhood Plans in force with many more in preparation, with 1,000 NP’s expected before too long.
Roger Hepher, director of Hepher Grincell, is scathing he stated;
“It flies in the face of the government’s avowed intent to increase housing delivery,” he says. “They say that neighbourhood plans are part of their strategy to bring land forward for development, but the reality is that local communities only identify sites for development to the minimum extent necessary.”
Canvey Island is a unique district. The level of Housing and Growth should be sensitively investigated in line with the obvious Constraining issues.
Castle Point Council have clearly indicated caution should have been adopted, something that council members have chosen to ignore. The possibilities that Neighbourhood Planning may benefit Canvey residents should not be disregarded hastily.