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

- By Tony Diver Political correspond­ent

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.

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