No right of appeal for communities

Planning minister Brandon Lewis has reiterated the Government’s determination not to allow third-parties, or even whole communities, to appeal against grants of planning permission.

The minister was responding to a Westminster Hall debate secured by Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris who sought only a right of appeal when an unspecified number of those affected in local communities signed their names.  She argued that changes in the planning system have moved ahead far faster than community rights, even though legislation for both was parallel.

“We do not, at this stage, support the proposal for a community right of appeal,” responded Mr Lewis “This would create a further opportunity to challenge development proposals in a system that is already geared towards ensuring that the views of third parties are heard and understood.”

He said planning reforms were intended to allow community input through neighbourhood plans and local plans – at the beginning of the process, not the back end.

“The minister’s point is that the appeal system was intended to provide redress for the individual owner,” said Ms Morris.  “I understand why that change was made. I think we are at a point in history where we should review again the importance and value of a community, and we should seriously consider its having a voice now, given how closely we live together and how many houses are built in such close proximity.”

She said a community right to appeal would mean they would at last see some fairness, developers would be encouraged to engage with them and councils would think long and hard about issues other than the community infrastructure levy.

“In future we would create communities rather than blocks of houses,” she said.

But Mr Lewis said a community right of appeal at the end of the process is too late to allow meaningful engagement and had the potential to slow down or even prevent sustainable and appropriate development at a time reforms are geared to speeding up planning.

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