Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fears communities will block development are unfounded, experts say

Neighbourhood plan seen as pro-development

The first community-produced development plan to reach examination stage shows that fears the government’s localism agenda will lead to widespread nimbysim are unfounded, experts claim.

Get on our land

People in Dawlish, a seaside town in south Devon with a population of around 13,000, have drawn up England’s first neighbourhood plan which recommends the development of 900 homes in the area over the next 20 years - the same number as the council recommended in its draft core strategy.

Despite fears that giving communities planning powers would lead to battles over house building, people in Dawlish have maintained the level of development suggested by Teignbridge Council, albeit in different locations.

Cameron Watt, head of neighbourhoods at the National Housing Federation, said: ‘It’s positive that these first neighbourhood plans are demonstrating that local people do seem to be getting a real say on the nature and location of development but that they’re accepting the scale of housing need.’

Dawlish’s plan has emerged just weeks after the national planning policy framework, which sets out how communities can get involved with planning decisions, was published.

Elizabeth Boyd, associate director of planning consultancy Tetlow King, said: ‘There was some concern from developers that neighbourhood plans would block development but it has been made clear [in the NPPF] that that is not going to be the case. The plan in Dawlish has reflected that.’

Dawlish was one of 17 areas chosen by the government to pilot neighbourhood planning in April 2011. The consultation for its neighbourhood plan received more than 400 responses from the community.

The plan will be examined by Christopher Balch, professor of planning at the University of Plymouth, later this month. If Mr Balch decides the community’s proposals are valid, it will go to a referendum. If more than 50 per cent of the turnout vote in favour of the plan, Teignbridge Council must adopt it.

Rosalind Prowse, chair of the Dawlish neighbourhood plan steering group, said the changes the community had made to the council’s proposals showed ‘real democracy in action’.

Inside Housing is calling for more public land to be available for house building through our Get on our Land campaign.

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