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Volume 571: debated on Monday 25 November 2013

16. How many planning applications opposed by local authorities and local communities have been approved on appeal since the coming into force of the Localism Act 2011. (901213)

In both of the past two years, 35% of planning appeals were allowed. Funnily enough, in 2009 under the last Labour Government, 34% of planning appeals were allowed.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but my question was specifically about the situation since the introduction of the Localism Act. Developers are putting in large-scale planning applications in rural areas such as mine, and the local residents campaign against them. The council then rejects an application but, on appeal, it is given the go-ahead. What account is taken of local people’s wishes when such appeals are heard?

I am sorry if I have not made this clear. Since the Localism Act, 35% of all such appeals to the Planning Inspectorate have been allowed, compared with 34% under the Labour Government before the Act, so there has been no substantial change. It is a fact that, under the Act, local opinion is extremely important. There has been almost no change in the percentage of appeals that succeed, and only 1% of all planning applications are allowed on appeal, so there has been no substantial change in the role of local opinion in determining planning applications since the Localism Act.

24. But does not the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Natascha Engel) have a point? I spent Saturday morning with residents of the conservation village of Norton St Philip, who are feeling absolutely besieged by up to seven planning applications for large-scale developments in the village, all because Mendip district council has failed to secure a local plan. If those applications are rejected because Mendip summons the nerve to do so—particularly those on a site that includes the historic site of the battle of Philip’s Norton—will the appeals process back them or attack them? (901221)

I shall try again to explain this, because I have clearly failed to do so. I apologise for not being clear. If the hon. Gentleman’s local authority rejects a planning application and the decision is appealed, and if the authority does not have a local plan in place with a robust five-year land supply, the planning inspector will consider whether the application meets the requirements in the national planning policy framework. I reiterate that planning inspectors are backing local authority decisions just as often as they did before the Localism Act was passed.

The Minister will know the intensity of feeling among local people when an application is approved on appeal. Even more worrying is that some local authorities are now rolling over to some applications because they cannot afford the expensive appeal procedure. Will he therefore consider giving extra support to small local authorities that are inundated with planning applications?

Local authorities should be making the decisions that they feel are right for their local communities and that meet their local policies and those in the national planning policy framework. An appeal might be lodged following their refusal of an application, but if they feel that their decision was right in the first place, they will be able to ask for costs against the developer that has submitted the appeal. They should not feel too worried about the cost of fighting an appeal if they are certain that their decision is good in law.