Saturday, 04 July 2015

Call made for community restrictions in Localism Bill

The Localism Bill should be amended to ensure housebuilding is not unreasonably restricted by communities, a senior National Housing Federation director has said.

Helen Williams, assistant director of neighbourhoods at the NHF, speaking at a seminar organised by the Westminster Social Policy Forum yesterday, outlined several amendments the federation is suggesting to the bill, which is currently in the House of Lords.

The Localism Bill contains measures aimed at giving more powers to local communities including the introduction of neighbourhood plans, which would be approved if 50 per cent of the population support them. The plans will allow councils to permit building through neighbourhood development plans without requiring normal planning consent.

Ms Williams said: ‘There is a risk that neighbourhood planning could unreasonably restrict house building.

‘To manage that risk we have been promoting a view that neighbourhood planning should be about people shaping the feel and look of their area but people should not be able to say no to development that is in the local development framework.

‘We would like to this put beyond doubt by putting an amendment in localism bill that clarifies that this is the case.’

The federation is also calling for a rule requiring councils to assess projected housing need in their areas and for the bill to be amended to stop village green applications being made after planning permission is granted.

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