Letter: Neighbourhood plans aren't clear-cut

I note Richard Garlick's article headlined: "There is little proof that neighbourhood plans help housing delivery" (see related articles). In fact there is little proof either way, and surely that is what your headline - and article - should have said?

My own experience is anecdotal, being based in Herefordshire where there is a very high proportion of neighbourhood development plans. Every one of those adopted NDPs plans for more housing than allocated by Herefordshire Council’s core strategy – many of them by more than 100 per cent when windfalls are taken into account.

It should be remembered that the consultancy Lichfields, whose report  suggesting that neighbourhood planning’s contribution to housing delivery is less significant than the government suggests, has an agenda. It acts for developers who do not like NDPs because they restrict the free-for-all they were handed by paragraph 49 of the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework.

Lichfields says that only 15 of the 330 neighbourhood plans "made" at the time of its survey appeared to plan for genuinely "more" or "additional" housing. But what does Lichfields mean by "genuinely ‘more’ or ‘additional’"? Their study appears to say that the NDPs do plan for more housing than the local target and that Lichfields has re-interpreted the plans in an opaque way to score a political point. Its contribution to the debate is neither credible nor helpful and I am disappointed that you have taken it up.

Helen Hamilton, Marches Planning

Please submit your letters by emailing planning@haymarket.com


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