MP seeks to stop developers ‘cherry-picking’ greenfield sites

“unwanted development is still being imposed on them, often with little chance to do anything about it.”

MP Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) wants a better balance between the rights of communities and those of developers and seeks to bring a ‘planning community involvement’ Bill to give communities more of a say in planning decisions…

MP’s Bill seeks brownfield-first

A 10-minute rule bill, requiring both councils and developers to pursue brownfield-first policies and restoring many of the sustainable planning policies dropped by recent changes has received its first reading in the Commons.

The National Planning Policy Framework (Community Involvement) Bill is promoted by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland and supported by 10 other MPs.

It is designed to build on the Localism Act and give communities more power in planning decisions.

It is supported by several national organisations but has very little chance of becoming law.

“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,” said Mr Mulholland.

“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.”

The Bill proposes a raft of reforms including a requirement on developers and councils to prioritize brownfield sites through controlling or phasing release of allocated sites.

It would give councils power to refuse greenfield applications until such brownfield sites are built up.

It also proposes a raft of other changes:-

  • abolition of developers’ right to appeal;
  • abolition of the Planning Inspectorate;
  • abolition of the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”;
  • dropping the requirement for councils to have a 20% housing buffer;
  • give councils power to refuse on prematurity grounds;
  • stronger regional co-ordination;
  • community involvement in development control;
  • independent local plans examination;
  • removal of many permitted development rights;
  • a community right to buy.

“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,” said Mr Mulholland.

“My Bill would also drop the requirement in the NPPF that local authorities should allocate an additional 20% buffer of deliverable housing sites. Developers can cause a 20% buffer to be required, rather than a 5% buffer, by under-delivering housing, so they are manipulating the system.”

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