Market Towns Test Planning Powers

RURAL and market towns are among 36 more communities that will try out new planning powers.

The 36 front-runners join 90 others that are among the first to test out neighbourhood planning powers introduced in the Localism Bill.

Planning minister Greg Clark said neighbourhood planning would give local people a real voice in deciding how development will look in their area.

It would allow people to shape their own vision for their community – in contrast to top-down regional strategies that are being scrapped.

Communities would be able to decide the locations of shops, offices and schools, protect valuable green spaces and set standards of design for new housing.

In areas where local people want to see homes and businesses built, communities would be allowed to grant blanket planning permission.

The community would also have the final say on whether a neighbourhood plan comes into force, said Mr Clark.

If more than 50% of people voting in a local referendum support the plan, then the local planning authority must bring it into force.

“For too long local people have been shut out of the planning process with no real voice to affect decisions about the places where they live.

“Unpopular regional strategies left people without the ability to influence the future of their community and this fuelled resentment towards growth.”

Each front runner’s local council will receive £20,000 to support work on neighbourhood planning and free advice from planning experts.

Rural consultant Brian Wilson, of Brian Wilson Associates, said rural communities had a proud history of developing parish and town plans.

“It will be fascinating to see how they use these proposed new neighbourhood planning powers,” he said.

“The advantage of the neighbourhood planning approach is that it will have statutory legitimacy.

“However, along with this will come additional complexity which could turn some rural communities off.”

In South Oxfordshire, Thame town council is already focusing on the local need for more affordable housing and transport infrastructure.

And in Northumberland, two rural parishes are concentrating on the need for more affordable housing, a new high school and an education campus.

In Wiltshire, Sherston Parish Council is aiming to deliver new homes, especially affordable homes for elderly and disabled residents.

Its plan will also look at the need for key local infrastructure such as high speed broadband, new schools and the development of a community orchard.

Meanwhile, local businesses and the community in Rutland are working together on a neighbourhood plan for Uppingham town centre.

The list of 36 communities is as follows:

Area

Community

Arun Angmering
Arun Multi parishes
Aylesbury Vale Buckingham
Brent Sudbury Town
Central Bedfordshire Caddington & Slip End
Cheshire West and Chester Winsford
Cornwall Rame Peninsula
Cornwall St. Erth
Cornwall St. Eval
Cornwall Truro
Exeter St James
Gateshead Team Valley Trading Estate
Liverpool Liverpool Innovation Park
Mendip Frome
Mid Sussex Cuckfield
Milton Keynes Castlethorpe
Milton Keynes Central Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Stony Stratford
Milton Keynes Wolverton
North Somerset Long Ashton
Northampton Wootton and East Hunsbury
Northumberland Almwick
Rutland Uppingham
South Oxfordshire Thame
South Oxfordshire Woodcote
Trafford Trafford Park
Waltham Forest Highams Park
Waltham Forest Leytonstone
West Oxfordshire Chipping Norton
Wiltshire Malmesbury
Wiltshire Sherston
Winchester Denmead
Windsor and Maidenhead Bisham and Cookham
Windsor and Maidenhead Datchet, Horton, Old Windsor and
Wraysbury
Windsor and Maidenhead Hurley and the Walthams
Wirral (Central Liscard) Central Liscard

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