Letter of repsonse from the Department for Communities and Local Government

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This is an edited reply from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Rev. Ian Robins, of Whalley, who raised concerns about large-scale housing developments with the Prime Minister’s office.

I am sorry to hear of your concerns about these matters, and the fact local planning decisions in your area have been overruled on appeal by government inspectors. An independent inspector is appointed to consider each planning appeal and they will make their decision based on the development plan for an area unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

While inspectors may come to a different view from the local authority and uphold an appeal, this does not mean they have ignored the views of the local authority or local residents – rather they have given different weight to the issues in coming to their decision.

Currently some two-thirds of appeals are refused, so the decision of the local authority is upheld in the majority of cases. Anyone who has concerns about the process followed by the Planning Inspectorate in reaching a decision can contact the Quality Unit at the Inspectorate, who can consider complaints about any decision they have issued.

The Framework also makes quite clear that it promotes sustainable development, not development at any cost. So, where decisions do need to be made on the basis of the Framework, because a council has not yet put in place a proper plan, or it cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing sites, these decisions will need to be made in the light of all the policies contained in the Framework, including those that provide strong protection for the environment.

Getting an up-to-date plan in place will stand councils in good stead in deciding applications and dealing with appeals. To help those councils who have not yet completed their plans, the Government continues to fund the Planning Inspectorate and Planning Advisory Service to provide assistance.

Paul Williams

DCLG, Eland House, London. SW1E 5DU