John Howell MP - author of the Conservatives’ Open Source Planning paper which laid the groundwork for the introduction of the neighbourhood planning system - spoke earlier this week in a House of Commons debate on neighbourhood planning.
In the debate, Howell suggested that the government "considers introducing a moratorium on new housebuilding where a neighbourhood plan is being put together".
Howell added that, in order to "prevent communities from cheating and claiming that they are producing a neighbourhood plan when they are not, rules would be needed that show that the plan is genuine".
"There would have to be rules to make sure that communities are allocating sites for development, not using the plan as a nimby charter", he said.
In response, housing and planning minister Alok Sharma said he "absolutely" understood the "frustrations felt by communities around the country when plans they have worked hard to produce are undermined".
But he stopped short of making any promises to look at introducing a moratorium, saying that the government had already moved to strengthen neighbourhood plans in areas where the local authority does not have a five-year housing land supply.
He said: "The best protection against unplanned development is to get a local plan in place … A local plan provides certainty for communities, developers and neighbourhood planning groups. It also removes the pressure on neighbourhood planning groups to fill the vacuum created by the failure of local planning authorities to keep their local plans up to date.
"The Housing White Paper sought views on what changes are needed to ensure that all forms of plan making are appropriate and proportionate. We will consider how we can further speed up the neighbourhood plan process so that communities get the plans they want in place as quickly as possible".
Elsewhere, Sharma said that measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Act to grant neighbourhood plans full legal effect once they have passed a referendum will be introduced soon.
"I can confirm that I have asked my officials to prepare the necessary orders to start this provision as soon as possible", he said.
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