A new powerful alliance of CPRE, Civic Voice and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), has called on all political parties to make a firm manifesto commitment to introduce a “community right of appeal” into the planning system.
The alliance believes that all political parties should support local ambitions by introducing a limited community right of appeal in areas where a development is non-compliant with a neighbourhood plan or local plan.
Currently parish councils and other community groups have the power to produce neighbourhood plans, but no scope to stop developers overriding this by putting in speculative planning applications for approval by the district council.
In Kent there have been many examples of this including:
- Land at Cockering Road, Thanington (Canterbury): Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping request for 850 dwellings – application expected;
- Western Heights/Farthingloe (Dover): 521 dwellings and 90 dwelling retirement village in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – approved;
- Discovery Park (Dover): 500 dwellings – approved;
- Land at Gibraltar Farm, Capstone Valley (Medway): 450 dwellings – pending decision;
- Land at Lady Dane Farm, Love Lane, Faversham (Swale): 196 dwellings – approved;
- Land off Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne (Swale): 580 dwellings – pending decision;
- Land at Pond Farm, Newington (Swale): EIA scoping request for 300 dwellings – application expected;
- Westwood Cross (Thanet): 550 dwellings on designated employment land – refused but allowed on appeal; and
- Kings Hill (Tonbridge and Malling): 635 dwellings on designated employment land – approved.
CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “Altogether these proposals amount to over 5,600 dwellings in addition to those included in adopted plans – about the same number of houses planned for the whole of Tunbridge Wells Borough to 2026. This is a significant amount of development coming forward outside of the plan making process with no right of appeal from the communities affected. The voice of local people through the local (town and parish) councils should always be at the heart of planning.”
The call for the community right of appeal was made on Sunday (15th) at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference where the three organisations joined together with Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, Martin Horwood MP to hold a debate on the benefits of such a right.
Martin Horwood said: “The introduction of a Community Right of Appeal could be triggered when a high threshold of community opposition was reached. Grounds for appeal could include insufficient infrastructure, non-compliance with government guidance and non-compliance with a local neighbourhood plan.”
CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers said: “The planning system needs to be rebalanced to give communities the right to stand up to bullying developers and appeal against planning decisions which ignore local or neighbourhood plans. The grounds on which developers can appeal should be restricted and a limited community right of appeal introduced. The vast majority of planning applications would be unaffected by such measures, but they would provide important safeguards to ensure communities can resist unsustainable development proposals.”
Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice said: “At present, the only recourse for the public against poor planning decisions is judicial review. A right of appeal would give local people a real opportunity to have a say and would rebalance the planning system and help deliver true localism”.
The three organisations have published their own individual manifestos and are each calling for a community right of appeal within them.
17th March 2015