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Planning Decisions

Volume 603: debated on Monday 14 December 2015

Over 1,700 communities are preparing neighbourhood plans to shape development in their area. These will form part of the development plan and be used to determine planning applications. The Housing and Planning Bill reforms will speed up and simplify the process and allow communities better to engage in local planning.

The Minister will be aware that the planning inspector has deferred a decision on Chippenham’s housing development plan and has asked Wiltshire council to come back after a few queries. During this time, what measures could be put in place to ensure we do not have a free-for-all of aggressive planning applications against the best interests of the strategy of the town?

Having a five-year land supply in place puts local planning authorities in a strong position to resist unwanted development. Furthermore, national planning policy reiterates the importance of sustainable development, not development anywhere or at any cost, and I am sure my hon. Friend’s local authority is well aware of that when making decisions.

Last Thursday at business questions I raised the case of Porlock avenue in Audenshaw in my constituency, where a small semi-detached property that is now privately rented has been converted into a house of multiple occupation as part of the asylum dispersal programme. Does the Minister understand the dismay of the neighbours of this property that the owners are able to circumvent planning and licensing regulations because there will be only five people housed in the property?

I cannot comment on an individual case without knowing all the facts, but I refer the hon. Gentleman to the measures in the Housing and Planning Bill, particularly those in relation to dealing with rogue landlords.

The interpretation of neighbourhood plans appears to be causing difficulties, in particular in the beautiful village of Hook Norton in my constituency. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how villagers can ensure the neighbourhood plan is adhered to?

And a great village Hook Norton is, and it is the home to a fantastic brewery. I hear what my hon. Friend says and I will certainly undertake to meet her, or I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning will.

Local communities in York desperately need family housing built for social rent on the 35-hectare York central site, yet we hear that high-value flats are going to be placed on that site. Will the Minister listen to local communities and ensure their voice is prioritised?

This Government have demonstrated that we want local people to have a strong voice through neighbourhood planning. The issue the hon. Lady mentions is on the record, and her local planning authority should be listening to the concerns and comments of local residents.

In council areas where there is no adopted local plan, local communities are continually let down by the planning process. Will my hon. Friend consider allowing objectors the right of appeal?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. By 2017 we will make sure all areas have a local plan in place. The Housing and Planning Bill sets out in some detail how we are going to achieve that.