LibDem MP calls for developers to lose appeal rights
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development
A Liberal Democratic MP has called for the controversial national planning policy framework (NPPF) to be changed so that developers lose the right to appeal but denied this will allow communities to simply block all development.
Greg Mulholland, who represents Leeds North West and is chair of the all-party Save the Pub group, said "too often communities have unwanted development imposed upon them" and blasted "money-making" developers for cherry-picking and building homes in the wrong places.
His Ten Minute Rule Motion has little chance of leading to actual legislation but was a good opportunity to fly a kite. And this was some kite.
In an extraordinarily detailed explanation on his home website (gregmulholland.org), the MP says: "Today I introduced to the House of Commons my national planning policy framework (community involvement) bill. It seeks to both build on the initiatives in the localism bill to give local communities more of a say in planning decisions but also to amend the national planning policy framework, which despite having much to commend it and being a much needed simplification of planning law, has not got the balance right between the rights of developers and the rights of local communities and is not being properly implemented - or, it seems, even understood - by some local authorities which undermines this further.”
In parliament, according to Hansard, the MP said: "Although I am delighted that the coalition government have taken many steps in the right direction, including the assets of community value scheme, neighbourhood development plans and a number of measures, in reality many of our constituents, including those of members from both coalition parties, and around the house, know that unwanted development is still being imposed on them, often with little chance to do anything about it."
The MP claimed that "developers are still cherry-picking greenfield sites and building expensive multi-bedroom houses in areas that do not want and cannot support significant development. That is not what the country needs; we need more affordable homes in key areas and more social housing. Reform is needed to ensure that building happens where it is wanted and needed by communities and regions, and on brownfield sites first, not simply where developers will make money building homes that are out of the reach of the pockets of ordinary people."
Like many, Mulholland was at pains to deny accusations of nimbyism.
"These are sensible measures; they are not radical and this is not nimbyism. I do not propose to try to stop development everywhere, and I am certainly not trying to discourage the housing we need. The measures in my bill are supported by organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has suggested a number of measures, the Campaign for Real Ale, Civic Voice, and also by the Local Government Association and local councils.”
He hoped the bill "will start a debate about how we can reform the planning system to get it right as we approach the general election.
"My bill would abolish the right of developers to appeal. There has been an inequity between communities and developers for too long. A report by Savills estate agents shows that 75% of all planning appeals for large housing developments are allowed after local councils have originally voted them down. My bill proposes the simplest and cheapest solution, which is to abolish the right to override local authority decisions by appealing to a distant planning inspector. That would be good news for the Treasury, because we could abolish the planning inspectorate, saving £50 million a year.
"I acknowledge that we need new homes, but paragraph 49 of the national planning policy framework should be amended to demand that developers must still meet local policy objectives, such as where a local authority seeks to prioritise development on brownfield sites before greenfield sites, and sweep away the nonsense of councils being unable to demonstrate a five-year land supply."