Localist approach?

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Is there an increasingly localist approach to planning in the National Planning Practice Guidance?  The new Guidance (which as emphasised in an earlier post is just guidance) notes in paragraph 3 of the Neighbourhood Planning section that the neighbourhood plan sits alongside the Local Plan.  This contrasts with both the NPPF and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which state that neighbourhood plans must conform with local plans.

This is particularly interesting when considering the draft neighbourhood plan in Tattenhall, Cheshire.  To preserve the village’s character the plan proposes that any housing developments should be limited to 30 houses.  A new draft local plan for the area is currently under consultation, and it is possible that the neighbourhood plan will come into effect before the local plan is finalised.

Tattenhall’s neighbourhood plan was approved in August but was unsurprisingly challenged by three housebuilders, all of whom have applied for larger developments in the area.  A threatened injunction to prevent a ballot on the plan was dropped, but two of the developers are seeking judicial review of the plan’s approval following a record 96% majority in the local referendum.  The referendum also achieved the highest turnout of any neighbourhood plan referendum so far at 52%.  The Courts should reject any suggestion that the NPPG has changed the legal requirements but maybe the political goal posts are shifting.