The 2011 Localism Act was introduced with the intention of giving communities more say over local development and home-building, but it also tipped the balance well in favour of developers. MP for Leeds Greg Mulholland is pushing Parliament to amend national planning policies to redress the balance and only allow building where it is wanted and needed by communities. These reforms are supported by many organisations including the Local Government Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The Saffron Walden Constituency MP is Sir Alan Haselhurst and we think he should support these proposals.
Background on the National Planning Policy Amendment
The following is part of the text of MP Greg Mulholland’s 10 Minute Rule Bill:
Greg Mulholland (MP, Leeds North West): I beg to move, that leave be given to bring a Bill to make further provision for the National Planning Policy Framework; and for connected purposes.
The Planning Community Involvement Bill seeks to build on the initiatives in the Localism Act 2011 to give communities more of a say in planning decisions, and to amend the national planning policy framework. Despite having much to commend it and despite it being a much-needed simplification of planning law, that framework has still not got the balance right between the rights of developers and those of local communities. It is also not being properly implemented by some local authorities.
In a June 2011 guide to the Localism Bill, the then planning Minister stated that the purpose of the Government’s localism agenda—one I warmly welcomed —was “to help people and their locally elected representatives achieve their own ambitions”.
Although I am delighted that the coalition Government have taken many steps in the right direction, including the assets of community value scheme, neighbourhood development plans and a number of measures, in reality many of our constituents—including those of Members from both coalition parties, and around the House—know that unwanted development is still being imposed on them, often with little chance to do anything about it.
Developers are still cherry-picking greenfield sites and building expensive multi-bedroom houses in areas that do not want and cannot support significant development. That is not what the country needs; we need more affordable homes in key areas and more social housing. Reform is needed to ensure that building happens where it is wanted and needed by communities and regions, and on brownfield sites first, not simply where developers will make money building homes that are out of the reach of the pockets of ordinary people.
These are sensible measures; they are not radical and this is not nimbyism. I do not propose to try to stop development everywhere, and I am certainly not trying to discourage the housing we need. The measures in my Bill are supported by organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has suggested a number of measures, the Campaign for Real Ale, Civic Voice, and also by the Local Government Association and local councils. I hope that the Bill will start a debate about how we can reform the planning system to get it right as we approach the general election, which is now just a year away.