Baldry calls for unambiguous planning policy

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Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry has delivered a damning House of Commons verdict on government planning policy, saying it needs “some important fine tuning”.

Sir Tony delivered a speech to the House last Wednesday claiming government housing targets are overriding Cherwell District Council’s planning powers and forcing it to build more homes not envisioned in its own Local Development Plan.

Sir Tony said if councils like Cherwell are deemed not to have met their five-year housing supply targets, it is “possible for opportunist or speculative developers to put in planning applications, even on sites not within the agreed and adopted Local Plan”, and said these applications would likely be approved on appeal, citing the recent approval of 85 homes at Deddington.

Sir Tony said councils were not getting clear guidance on housing targets as the Planning Inspectorate is using different methods known as the Liverpool and Sedgefield methods to calculate targets.

He said: “It simply isn’t good public policy to not know what methodology a Planning Inspector is going to adopt in calculating whether or not a Local Planning Authority has met its five year housing supply.”

Sir Tony also called on ministers to “make it clear and unambiguous” which method they expect councils to use.

He said the “great pressure” involved in meeting housing targets is preventing Cherwell developing vital brownfield sites such as the mooted Canalside scheme for Banbury and said more weight should be given to emerging Neighbourhood Plans in communities such as Deddington and Bloxham and planning applications which contradicted them should be refused.