Responding to the decision from MPs to oppose the amendment to allow local councils to opt out of extending permitted development rights, Civic Voice Chair, Paula Ridley, said:
“Civic Voice is disappointed that MPs have voted against this amendment. In our view, good local planning policy should have the support and consent of local people”.
MPs voted by 286 to 259, a majority of 27, to remove the amendment to allow local councils to seek exemptions from a blanket approach to extending permitted development rights. The amendment, introduced by Conservative Peer, Lord True of Richmond was supported by the Labour Party, 19 Conservative MPs and 9 Liberal Democrat MPs.
Although voting to remove the amendment, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP said that he had listened to the concerns expressed by peers, MPs and communities and that "in the spirit of consensus", the Government would look to bring forward a "revised approach" when the Bill returns to the House of Lords. Mr Pickles told MPs he was willing to find a "sensible compromise" but has not confirmed what this will be.
Paul Ridley said “The amendment would have been a modest concession which would not have blocked the Government's reform being adopted automatically wherever local communities wanted it. We welcome the Secretary of State saying he is now prepared to compromise but we now need the Government to give greater clarity about what this means and how it plans to reach such a compromise”.
Labour Shadow Minister in Communities and Local Government,Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, said “Despite the concession hinted at by Eric Pickles, clearly the Government still hasn’t worked out how they are going to address the concerns raised by huge numbers of people and organisations in response to the ludicrous policy, despite the consultation closing almost 4 months ago”
Paula Ridley finished by saying “The civic society movement should take credit for what we have managed to achieve in a short space of time. Nearly 400 MPs across England were contacted by civic groups supporting this amendment in what is a significant demonstration of strength in numbers. We thank all our members and supporters for participating in this campaign and we will now talk to colleagues in the House of Lords to agree our next steps”.
The Government will set out the new approach in the House of Lords when the Growth and Infrastructure Bill returns there next week. The issue will then return to the House of Commons on 23 April to be discussed further.
Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. It leads and supports civic societies as a national movement for quality of place, with people actively improving their towns, cities and villages and promote civic pride. It speaks up for civic societies and local communities across England. It believes everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at http://www.civicvoice.org.uk including how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.