MP welcomes new planning rules which ‘put local people in charge’

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has welcomed today’s announcement that the Government will intervene to force local authorities to abide by community wishes in planning applications.

Councils formulate local plans to identify areas for development and to specify which land can be used for housing, industrial, retail and agricultural purposes.

The plan forms a blueprint by which planning applications are judged and are a key way in which local communities can get involved in those big decisions. Some local authorities, including Northumberland County Council, have still not finalised plans.

This creates a vacuum with no guidelines and makes it harder to object to radical planning applications.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that councils will not be allowed to put off this important work.

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP said: “Many councils have published a local plan, but some have been dragging their feet. That is why, in cases where no up-to-date local plan has been produced and is in place by early 2017, the Prime Minister has made clear that we will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people.”

Mr Lewis said the Government will offer support to help councils meet the deadline.

Mrs Trevelyan said: “An up-to-date local plan, prepared with full public involvement, is the best way to ensure the right development happens in the right place and that communities are involved in the process. I would encourage Northumberland County Council to accept the new assistance on offer to prioritise this work and identify any barriers to them achieving this.

The new measures will be part of the Housing and Planning Bill, which will come before Parliament in the coming months and will also include details of how the extension of the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants will work in practice.

“I have been inundated with inquiries from local people keen to take advantage of the new scheme to take steps to own their home and I am pleased to hear from the Minister yesterday, that the Government will compensate housing associations to enable them to reinvest in buying and building new homes to ensure there are housing association properties available for those that need them,” said Mrs Trevelyan.