Planning appeals are determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Once brought into force, a neighbourhood plan is part of the development plan.
As the Minister will know, a few weeks ago the villagers of Earls Barton were trooping to the polls to vote on the referendum on their neighbourhood plan, at the very same time as the Secretary of State was allowing a housing planning appeal in their area. After all the work my constituents have put in, what assurance can the Minister give them that this work on neighbourhood plans will be worth while?
I recognise my hon. Friend’s diligent commitment to representing the views of his constituents and taking an interest in local matters, including this one. He will appreciate that I cannot comment on individual planning cases, but neighbourhood plans are, where appropriate, given significant weight, and individual decision letters will set out why there is a difference and why a neighbourhood plan has been departed from. The Secretary of State will always give appropriate weight to neighbourhood plans, which are an important part of our planning process and of localism. We welcome them and we want to see more agreed.