While Ministers have emphasised in the wake of local elections that they are now listening, Horsham MP Francis Maude has not so far responded to various requests for time to allow Local and Neighbourhood Plans to be completed.
To recap, he observed that ‘when you take planning away from local people, it not only breeds distrust in the planning system but leads to a severe lack of protection of the countryside’.
Localism should not of course mean waiting for speculative planning applications to be submitted and only then seeking comments from residents.
Indeed, Palnning Minister Nick Boles is also reported as saying that ‘homeowners should stop objecting to development and instead have constructive rows with officials [repeat officials] to ensure better housing is built in the countryside’.
Since the above statements are consistent with the concept of Localism outlined by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sometime ago, it seems that all three ministers are in accord and they will presumably want to allow time for Local and Neighbourhood Plans to be completed properly.
Because many Local and Neighbourhood Plans have not been adopted our countryside remains vulnerable through the use of ‘presumption in favour’, which makes it easier for inappropriate applications to be driven through.
That risk could be reduced if ministers were to instruct the Government’s Planning Inspectorate that ‘presumption in favour’ is to be suspended for 12
months, thereby allowing Local and Neighbourhood plans to be completed.
If they don’t do that, then the time and money spent on those plans could well prove abortive and they would surely not want that.
So, I urge ministers to show that they are genuine in their support for Localism and the need to protect our beautiful countryside, by instructing their Planning Inspectorate accordingly. Let them show now that they really are listening.
I also urge anyone who shares these concerns to make representations directly to their MP.
We need a moratorium of at least one year on the application of ‘presumption in favour’.
(UKIP) Horsham district councillor for Chanctonbury ward, North Street, Horsham