The Daily Telegraph
Residents given planning vote in olive branch to rebels
Neighbours to have a say on design of housing and alterations to streetscape near their dwellings
NEIGHBOURS will be given a vote on the design of housing developments on their road as an olive branch is offered to Tory rebels who oppose the Government’s planning reforms, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Ministers are rewriting the Planning Bill after some 100 Conservative MPS suggested they would vote against it, arguing that its attempts to increase housebuilding will silence residents.
Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, has set a target for developers to build 300,000 homes per year, and councils have been told to draw up a plan to accommodate them.
But in a major concession to the rebels, The Telegraph understands Mr Jenrick will also add a section to the bill to enable residents to vote on plans for the design of new homes, or modification to existing buildings, near their homes.
The idea was proposed in a paper from the Policy Exchange think tank. It is hoped that giving people a say on developments in their area will encourage more people to accept building works, and persuade Tory MPS to vote for the planning reforms.
Many Conservatives blamed the Planning Bill for the party’s shock defeat by the Liberal Democrats in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June. They fear more seats in the south of England could be lost if the plans are not diluted before the next election.
The housing ministry is planning to use “neighbourhood development orders,” an obscure planning tool, to enshrine the rights of street-level groups in law.
It is thought that groups of residents will be allowed to band together to suggest a building development in their road, such as adding an extra storey to every home. The idea is supported by many of the bill’s critics in Parliament. This week, a group of Tory MPS formally proposed that the Planning Bill includes street votes.
A government source said: “We want communities to help set the rules for how their own streets should develop so that development reflects local views.
“The Planning Bill will reflect this, and we are exploring the idea of neighbourhood development orders being adopted at street level.
“We have listened to colleagues and the proposals for reforming the planning system that we will bring forward are sensible and pragmatic”
Officials pointed to a 2012 decision by Camden Council to allow a mansard roof to be added to a row of houses, on the condition they were all built at the same time and in the same style.
Mr Jenrick hopes the move will make it easier for people to influence the style of developments. A source close to Mr Jenrick said final decisions on the bill had not yet been taken.