The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Respect that planning authorities need the flexibility to write and interpret Local Plan policies which can reflect local priorities and circumstances. The shortened NPPF is welcome. Whilst explanatory guidance can be useful, any temptation to reintroduce more national policies should be resisted.
- Relax its unreasonable timescales for putting up-to-date Local Plans in place, in view of the complexity of the plan preparation process.
- Give greater weight to draft and submitted Local Plans, so that localism is upheld, especially where the Government’s Planning Inspectorate is hearing Appeals.
- Identify a fairer way to calculate the five year housing land supply figures. Shortfalls from previous years, due to weak market conditions, should not simply be added on. If planning authorities can show they are successfully working towards a five year land supply that should be sufficient to reject applications at odds with the Local Plan.
- Rethink the proposed exemption of single plot self-build homes from the Community Infrastructure Levy. In the smallest settlements they may be the only developments and form a key income source for Parish Councils. It also risks games playing, with developers splitting sites into single plots.
- Ensure decisions uphold the principle that draft Neighbourhood Plans have weight once they have been submitted to local planning authorities (at the so-called Regulation 15 stage).
- Ensure there is continued grant funding both for Neighbourhood Planning groups and to cover the additional costs that they bring for local planning authorities.
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