10. What support his Department has provided to local communities on neighbourhood planning and community rights since May 2010. 
Our support programmes have provided nearly £50 million to help communities undertake neighbourhood planning and access community rights and associated initiatives, including £22.5 million for neighbourhood planning announced only a few weeks ago. That has funded a helpline, online resources, specialist support and grants. From 2015-16 we are investing a further £32 million to help communities take up the rights.
I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Leeds city council is currently producing a site allocation plan, but neighbourhood planning organisations in my constituency are becoming increasingly frustrated by the council’s lack of consultation with them on the issue. What measures have the Government put in place to ensure that councils work with and share the evidence with such groups, which, after all, are made up of people who will be directly affected by the plans?
My hon. Friend works hard to champion his local communities. I have enjoyed meeting some of the people working on the neighbourhood plans. They can have absolute confidence that a neighbourhood plan has weight in law. There is a duty on local authorities to work with a neighbourhood plan in an area. Indeed, the Government give them funding to do just that. If there are concerns about that, I will happily meet him and any of his constituents to see what we can do to ensure that the local authority does its duty.
Does the Minister understand the considerable upset and frustration from my constituents in Reddish, and indeed in Denton, at the decision by Liberal Democrat-controlled Stockport council to grant outline planning permission for luxury houses to be built within Reddish Vale country park, which is part of the Greater Manchester green belt? Is not that just another example of the Government talking the talk on community engagement but, when it comes to it, the public being locked out of the decisions?
Obviously, the green belt is protected and the Government have made it clear that it should be built on in exceptional circumstances only. Ultimately, local planning is a decision for the local authority, which is locally democratically accountable.
The Secretary of State kindly came to Colchester and saw how the planning process failed the residents in the Mile End area of Colchester. Can the Minister give some assurance that the same thing is not going to happen to the east of town, particularly as the land in question in partly in Tendring district and partly in the borough of Colchester?
As the hon. Gentleman appreciates, I cannot comment on a particular planning application, but in a general sense there is a duty for local authorities to co-operate, and they should be working together on these matters. Having a local plan—and even more so a neighbourhood plan—is the most powerful way for a local community to have absolute control over planning decisions in its locality.