The leader of a rural Tory borough council with no adopted local plan in place has said that it has been ‘inundated with large planning applications’ from developers seeking to take advantage of the coalition’s planning reforms.
In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Michael Ranson, leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council in Lancashire, said that the government “has got it wrong” and that ministers’ plans needed a “rethink”.
Ranson said that his authority is “in the middle of producing our local plan”. But he added that it would be next spring before the public examination of the plan could take place.
Ranson wrote: “If the majority of the existing substantial planning applications are approved in the next few months, it will drive a coach and horses through any plan reflecting local requirements and preferences.”
Under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, enshrined in the draft National Planning Policy Framework, councils will be required to grant permission where a local plan is “absent, silent or indeterminate”.
The Planning Inspectorate has already written to planning inspectors to advise them that the draft NPPF is capable of being considered a material consideration.
In the letter, Ranson said: “From advice we have received, we are not allowed to delay or refuse applications on grounds of the imminence of our new local plan. Surely this cannot be right.”
He added: “It is no surprise that developers want to get approvals before the plan is accepted, because otherwise they would be bound by the wishes of local people.”