Some Residents at our recent meeting (3rd April) held to launch the Plan Questionnaire, asked if making a Neighbourhood Plan would “make any difference”. Well, we believe IT DOES. Why?
The Housing Minister (Gavin Barwell) made a Written Statement on 12 December 2016 reinforcing the importance of Neighbourhood Plans. He observed that such plans have an importance in meeting new housing needs and stated that they should be respected by a District Council, adding that where a planning application conflicts with a Neighbourhood Plan that is in force, planning permission should not normally be granted.
Several legal cases involving the Parishes/Communities including those of Newick, Lewes, East Bergholt and Yapton, West Sussex have been reported. They all involved a serious knock-back to the prospective developers concerned applying for planning permission in the face of Neighbourhood Plans which did not support the prospective applications.
The latter case is informative, since the Planning Application was “called in” from the Local Authority decision, and the Planning Inspector recommended that permission for 100 houses be granted. The Minister did not agree (contrary to Departmental Advice) and the developers appealed to the High Court, who on 11 April 2017 decided that the Neighbourhood Plan was to be to be given full weight and as the application was contrary to it, the developers’ appeal was rejected.
The Court repeated the core principle of neighbourhood planning contained in the National Planning Policy Framework namely that it should be: “genuinely plan-led, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, with succinct local and neighbourhood plans setting out a positive vision for the future”.