New planning guidance

CHANGES to the planning system that discourage development on sites at risk of flooding, or which lack sufficient infrastructure, have been welcomed.

A raft of amendments to the draft planning practice guidance were unveiled by planning minister Nick Boles.

It warns councils to consider ‘strict tests’ before allowing development on flood-risk sites.

It also says council’s local plans need to ‘pass the test of soundness’, where authorities have not been able to identify land for growth in years 11 to 15 of the plan.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, who has been critical of unsustainable development, tabled an amendment in the Commons requiring adequate infrastructure to support development.

He said: “These are welcome changes which show that ministers have listened to local concerns about planning reforms. I, and other MPs, have argued strongly about the problem of inadequate infrastructure to support development, and as recent flooding shows, these issues cannot be ignored.

“A focus on redeveloping brownfield sites, a more sensible approach on the ‘duty to co-operate’ between councils, and giving proper weight to emerging local plans so that they’re not undermined by speculative development should all help to achieve a better balance between providing housing and protecting the countryside.”

Meanwhile, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton has written to Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin, as well as Mr Boles, urging the council not to over-develop on flood plains.

Adur is currently deciding on its final local plan, which will outline the local housing strategy and allocation for the foreseeable future.

In the letter, Mr Loughton acknowledged that Conservative councillors in Adur shared his concern about the implications of over-development and had campaigned against this actively, but he urged them not to be rushed by central Government to produce a final plan that was not sustainable for the local community.