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Impact of new housing in Longridge, Clitheroe and Whalley

Volume 594: debated on Monday 23 March 2015

The Petition of the residents of Longridge, Whittingham and the Ribble Valley Parliamentary Constituency,

Declares that the small rural towns and villages like Longridge, Clitheroe and Whalley up and down the country are under siege from housing developers seeking to build excessive numbers of homes to encourage people to migrate from industrial towns and cities to rural communities.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons recognises the problems of these communities like Longridge where developers are seeking to build 2,300 houses and amend the National Planning Policy Framework to:

(a) Suspend the operation of clauses 14 and 49 of the National Planning Policy Forum until 90% of local authorities have an approved local development plan so there is no presumption in favour of planning consent where a local authority does not have an approved Local Development Plan or 5 years of development land and

(b) Allow local communities divided by a local government boundary to be treated as one entity for planning purposes.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Nigel Evans,

Official Report, 4 November 2014; Vol. 587, c. 796.] [P001395]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

Through our reforms in the Localism Act and National Planning Policy Framework the Government have put local plans at the heart of the planning system. We have encouraged and supported all local authorities to get up-to-date plans in place as soon as possible as this is the most effective way of managing development within a local area. Local plans help guard against ‘speculative’ or unwanted development by setting the framework in which decisions on particular proposals are taken (whether that decision is taken locally or by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal).

Our policy does not ask that areas deliver more development than is needed, but that they plan to meet objectively assessed development needs as far as is consistent with national policy as a whole. National policy, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development included in the Framework does not mean development at any cost. The presumption is clear that applications should not be approved if the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits; or if specific policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

This ensures that important safeguards are respected.

The Ribble Valley Core Strategy (local plan) was adopted by the Council on 16 December 2014. In determining planning applications, decisions must be taken in line with the local plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The adopted plan will therefore put local communities in the best possible place to steer future development in their area.

It is a fundamental principle of the planning system that authorities must take decisions on planning applications as they come before them rather than delay until a future point in time. It is also now almost three years since the publication of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act. To impose a moratorium on decision-taking in respect of housing until 90% of plans are adopted would stall much needed development; there are pressing national needs for housing and jobs that would be exacerbated were such an approach adopted.

All residents of Longridge, Whittingham and the Ribble Valley, have opportunities to express views and influence decisions on proposals for future developments. Upon the submission of any planning application for development the council must advertise the application by site notice and on their web-site. At such a time local residents may object to the proposal, and the council must take these views into account in reaching a decision.

Since the National Planning Policy Framework was introduced, the number of appeals received across England has fallen as has the number allowed. The quality of local decisions also remains high—99% of decisions are made locally with only approximately 1% of planning applications overturned on appeal. Housing starts and housing construction are also up, as are permissions for new homes. This means there is more local decision-making, and our reforms are supporting badly-needed new homes within a locally-led planning system.

The Localism Act 2011 places a legal duty on local planning authorities, county councils, and public bodies to co-operate with their neighbouring authorities on strategic planning issues. Councils are required to demonstrate that they have complied with the duty when their local plans are at examination. Failure to demonstrate compliance will mean that a local plan cannot be found sound. Co-operation between local authorities should produce effective and deliverable policies on strategic cross boundary matters, and effective planning policies will ensure local authorities are in control of their planning issues.