Locally we have three tiers of Council. County, District and Parish. County is mainly about highways and Schooling, District about Planning, Benefits and Communities with Parish about very local issues, open space and play areas. A number of our Councillors are very hard working and effective but from time to time something really noteworthy occurs which is worth a special mention.
Earlier this year the House of Commons ‘Communities and Local Government Committee’ held a select committee hearing into the operation of NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) which came into force just over 2 years ago. The role of this is to look into the impact of NPPF and how it might be improved. For us in Horndean we have seen an onslaught of developer interest, but we are not alone. This has been the same across the county and also the country as developers sought to take advantage of the new planning rules get permissions on land fast seeing the changing market ahead.
East Hants among other organisations are regularly consulted and raised issues where the new planning rules were leaving us vulnerable to poor quality development or the inability to defend the local views, but a handful of individuals also wrote in to raise their concerns, one of whom was Cllr Elaine Tickell from Horndean Parish Council. Elaine has taken a strong interest in local planning issues and represents the Parish very well at East Hants but surpassed all of us locally (and Nationally) by writing in to the Committee by herself with a submission which was viewed as of sufficient interest and relevance that Elaine was then called in to The House of Commons to give evidence to the committee on how NPPF is working and how it might be improved. That is special and deserves credit.
Some of the conclusions and findings of the committee are of deep interest and relevance to us in Horndean. The committee felt that too much weight was being given to the housing need, and not enough to the Environment or Social dimensions. There were clear concerns that the infrastructure must be accompanied with development. The provisions allowing development viability to be considered, and the developer ‘let off’ if a scheme is not profitable need to be reviewed to ensure loopholes are closed off. The conclusions are actually quite extensive and having read them I have to say they are pretty robust and would make a good improvement to NPPF if implemented.
It was people like Cllr Tickell who have helped to shape these views, some of which might help to make positive changes to the planning laws, and hopefully we will see more of her locally in the future.
To read the Communities And Local Government Committee report into NPPF click on this link here: CLG Committee Report into NPPF Dec 2014