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“We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the relentless attack on Worcestershire’s towns and villages from developers.” That was the reaction of Sir Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, to recently published new Government planning rules.

Last week the Planning Minister Nick Boles set out further planning guidance that will be used by local authorities and planning inspectors when considering planning applications.

Introducing these new rules the minister says he is,

• “Issuing robust guidance on flood risk, making it crystal clear that councils need to consider the strict tests set out in national policy, and where these are not met, new development on flood risk sites should not be allowed.

• “Reaffirming green belt protection, noting that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh harm to the green belt and other harm to constitute very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development.

• “Ensuring that infrastructure is provided to support new development, and noting how infrastructure constraints should be considered when assessing suitability of sites.

• “Noting that councils should also be able to consider the delivery record—or lack of—of developers or landowners, including a history of unimplemented permissions. This will also serve to encourage developers to deliver on their planning permissions.

• “Clarifying when councils can consider refusing permission on the grounds of prematurity in relation to draft plans.”

Commenting on the statement Sir Peter said,

“I share the deep concern of so many communities about failures in national planning policies. The planning system is virtually out of control in Wychavon, while we wait for the approval of the new South Worcestershire Development Plan.

“Until we get that plan in place - a plan that will still mean thousands of new houses to meet genuine local need - ýboth Wychavon's planners and local communities are effectively at the mercy of developers who can force houses to be built in woefully inappropriate locations. When the SWDP is in place, decisions on locations will not always be popular but they will have been decided locally as part of a proper process. That's why I've been pressing the government's Planning Inspectorate to ensure the SWDP is approved at the earliest possible moment.

“I have also been expressing to the planning minister my deep concern about the way the planning rules set by central government work, so I am pleased that the Government is taking steps to make this right.

“What Mr Boles says in his statement about prematurity is particularly important as this should help Wychavon oppose speculative planning applications if housing is already proposed for that area in the future plan.

“Communities will also welcome the strong guidance on building in areas that are at risk of flooding and ensuring that infrastructure, like roads and sewage systems, are improved or can properly cope with new homes.”

“Wychavon District Council and the representatives of several parish councils who met the minister, Nick Boles when he came to Pershore last year can, I believe, can take some credit for important changes ýto the rules announced by the minister yesterday.

“Just how significant these new rules are only time will fully tell. But it is good that the Government are beginning to realise the impact of their policy and trying to put it right.”


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