4 December 2023
MP: Councils Must Act to Protect Neighbourhood Plans

The Government has confirmed that the lack of a five year land supply in the Malvern Hills is undermining the hard work done by local communities who have developed neighbourhood plans.

And West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin called district councils to act swiftly to head off speculative planning applications and reduce the costs to the taxpayer of losing planning appeals.

District councils are required to have enough new housing to meet five years’ worth of demand but in successive years Malvern Hills District Council has failed to meet that requirement.

Following a developer's successful appeal for more housing in Hallow, Harriett wrote to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ask about the relevance of the village’s Neighbourhood Plan in defending against unwanted planning applications.

Local Government Minister Simon Hoare confirmed that the district council’s failure to meet its five-year land supply targets was allowing developers to by-pass the village’s own plan.

Harriett said:

“I have been flagging my concerns about the five-year land supply to locally elected councillors as it is their direct duty to manage this issue.

“Across the south of Worcestershire, we are seeing developers riding rough shod over the wishes of local people – some of who have gone to great time and expense to develop their own Neighbourhood Plans.

“I raised the legitimate concerns of Hallow Parish Council with the Government and I’ve received an unequivocal response. Without a proper five-year land supply, we will see many more of speculative housing proposals coming out of the woodwork.

“I dread to think how much these lost appeals are costing the local taxpayer and I can't believe how long it is taking to agree the local plan. 

“The long-drawn out review of the South Worcestershire Plan won’t conclude until the end of next year and while this is still under inspection, the larger villages around West Worcestershire are a sitting duck for unwanted housing development.

“I am also pressing for changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to give greater weight to Neighbourhood Plans.”