Thursday, 05 March 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.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Alpha One

    I disagree.

    The local development framework should take into account the neighbourhood plan, if there is a conflict then the neighbourhood plan should prevail.

    If it doesn't then what exactly is the point of neighbourhood plans to begin with?

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  • As I undesrtand it the Neighbourhood Plans will indeed have to respect the housing targets set out in the Local Plan, and can not propose fewer homes. I wrote about this on my blog Ruralise, here: . However, in the longer term it is the scrapping of the Regional Spatial Strategies that may cause problems for housing growth. On Ruralise here:

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  • Gavin Rider

    Ah, I see. Local communities can decide what they do or don't want built in their areas so long as it complies with what the NHF wants to build there.

    Mmmmm - Big Society heap gooooood.

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  • Trevor Galley

    Well here we go yes you and your community can decide but really you cant!

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  • Local communities must have the final say - they have the incentives to allow planning - provided the sacrifice to local amenities are acceptable.

    The local development plan, etc, will have to take into account of local sentiments - regrettably the consultations promoted by local authoroties is limited to insiders and the public have no clue as to the future impacts of development in their area. It is then too late - hence cause of much dissatisfaction at the local community level.

    Hopefully local communities will start waking up amd make use of their new posers - takes a long time to wean off the prevailing top-down culture - people feel helpless to overcome.

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  • There is clearly a tension, not to say conflict, between providing the housing our growing population needs and planning for local development in the way the community wants. Local authorities will have to make it easier and more attractive for local communities to participate but even then communities will have to work hard to get their ideas and and aspirations into an effective neighbourhood plan. It's not going to be easy...

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