Communities must be more involved in key planning decisions, says Stroud MP
NEIGHBOURHOOD Planning Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government, came to Stroud to talk about neighbourhood planning.
I am very keen to promote this tool for local communities to use in order to plan their own environment and to effectively take control of planning so I was delighted he was able to accept my invitation.
The Valleys and Vale are often subject to planning applications from developers.
Right now, for example, we have campaigns against proposals in Slad and Rodborough with the likelihood of appeal process being deployed and, already, alarm at the relative short period of time between learning about the applications and decision time.
This is made more challenging as Stroud District Council does not have an agreed local plan (sadly too many planning authorities are in the same position).
From now on, local communities can make their own plans.
In the absence of a local plan, this is all the more significant as any neighbourhood plan would, effectively, be filling in a vacuum. On this basis alone, it is worth getting started.
Planning is not without cost but financial support to the tune of up to £37 000 is available from government for Town and Parish Councils.
This money can be used to prepare a plan, consult local residents and, finally, hold a local referendum to give the plan statutory force.
The plan can set out priorities and preferences about housing developments and the local economy.
Areas can be earmarked for development and other areas can be protected from development.
Crucially, once the referendum has demonstrated local support for the plan, it has legal force. Any planning inspector would have to take the plan into account if presiding over an appeal.
This new planning mechanism gives real muscle to Parishes and Town Councils, and, also, potentially, communities without a council but with a desire to take control.
All of this means local people can make lasting decisions about their area, and, instead of reacting to development proposals, they can determine the cause of events and even grant planning permission for development.
If you are interested in the issues raised above, please contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website - www.neilcarmichael.co.uk. Now, you can also follow me on twitter @neil_mp.