MP calls for re-think on planning rules

Harrogate and Knaresborough’s MP is calling on Eric Pickles to changing planning guidelines.

Harrogate Borough Council is in a difficult position since it was left without a local plan last year.

Without being able to prove that the area has a five year supply of housing decisions are weighted in favour of developers, if they can prove that proposals are sustainable.

MP Andrew Jones wants to see the rules on accounting for future housing growth changed, to stop developers stockpiling planning permissions.

Mr Jones commented: “Developers appear more interested in obtaining as many planning permissions as they can on greenfield sites.”

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires councils to have a five year supply of deliverable housing sites.

When they don’t, they are unable to prevent speculative developers getting planning permission unless the harm of a development is considered significant. That housing supply is defined as the number of houses that are likely to be built in the next five years.

Mr Jones added: “Developers can ensure councils do not reach their five year land supply target. This is done by simply not building houses for which they already have permission or building at such a slow rate that the target is unlikely to be reached.

“This is clearly a case of those with the greatest influence over whether the Council reaches its five year target being the same as those who benefit most from it not being able to do so. This cannot be right.”

Andrew Jones has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, calling for a change in planning guidelines.

Coun Michael Harrison, Cabinet Member for Planning (Con, Killinghall)has admitted that Harrogate Borough Council is feeling the pressure from speculative developers, eyeing up sites across the district.

He said: “At the moment we are under pressure from these predatory developers.

“It does put the pressure on Harrogate in terms of the need for houses and until we have got a local plan in place or a five-year supply of housing in the pipe-line we are at risk of developers appealing for permission on land that the council would rather not see developed.”