Keep neighbourhood plans watertight, say councils

Parish councils are urging the government to stand firm against developers who “want to ride roughshod” over the wishes of rural communities.

It comes after developers challenged a government move to strengthen neighbourhood plans in areas where the local authority does not have a five year housing land supply.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), which represents parish and town councils, called on government ministers to reject the challenge.

Neighbourhood plans enable local communities can shape the sort of development they want in their local area.

    See also: Successful neighbourhood planning

NALC said parish and town councils played an increasingly important role in communities – especially when it came to neighbourhood planning.

Some 90% of the 2000 communities which were developing a neighbourhood plan were led by a parish or town council, the association said.

NALC chairman Sue Baxter said: “We strongly urge the government to resist any calls from developers to water down the effectiveness of neighbourhood plans.

“Also we call on this consortium of developers to change their tack and work more closely with local councils and communities on future housing and developer needs.”

Rather than opposing development, local councils were helping communities to shake off their NIMBY critics by increasingly supporting housing and growth.

The government’s own evidence showed that neighbourhood planning increased housing numbers by around 10%, said councillor Baxter.

“Neighbourhood planning is not about NIMBYism but in fact it is the opposite allowing for more appropriate housing and development to meet community needs.”

Developers should work more closely with local councils and communities on fulfilling housing needs that was desperately needed.

Neighbourhood planning was being used by local councils to shape and influence development in their area and to increase housing and affordable housing.

It was creating more resilient communities while supporting economic development – and strengthening local democracy by encouraging people to stand in local council elections.

The process was also exciting local people and generating a huge amount of community interest, encouraging citizens to engage with often difficult local issues.

Local councils were mobilising thousands of volunteers to develop neighbourhood plans, with some 400,000 people so far voting through local referendums.



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