Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, welcomes stronger protections for Neighbourhood Plans as plan made by Desford group is “ridden roughshod over” as Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council push back Local Plan another six months.
Without an up-to-date Local Plan or 5 Year Housing Land Supply, which are the issues currently facing residents in Hinckley and Bosworth, the planning system doesn’t work.
Neighbourhood Plans differ from the Local Plan. Neighbourhood plans are put together by Parish Councils and small groups of volunteers in the village, however, if a Borough Council Local Plan is not up-to-date piecemeal housebuilding can be pushed through, and local residents are unable to prevent it. The result is that houses can be built in villages where residents don’t want them, and the infrastructure like roads, school places and GP services become further strained.
Dr Evans says "This is exactly what is happening across Hinckley and Bosworth."
Neighbourhood Plans, once approved in a local referendum and adopted by the local planning authority, enable the community to take greater control over development in their area by allocating suitable sites themselves.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) update, announced in December 2023 by Michael Gove, protects Neighbourhood Plans from speculative development from two to five years, where those plans allocate at least one housing site.
Local Planning Groups have welcomed the increased protection period for Neighbourhood Plans with Dr Evans adding “This is great news for groups and volunteers across our area who have given their time to carefully create thorough Plans in areas like Burbage, Market Bosworth and Desford.”
The GP-turned-MP previously led a Westminster Hall debate on the importance of Neighbourhood Plans and their relationship with Local Plans, raising the issue directly with the Housing Minister.
A week after the Bosworth MP’s question, which referenced the lack of progress by the Borough Council, the leadership of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council admitted the earliest adoption period for an up-to-date Local Plan would now be pushed back to early 2026. Previous promises were made to have the Plan in place by August 2025.
Speaking in the House of Commons Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, asked “My Liberal Democrat-run borough council still does not have an up-to-date Local Plan. Every day that passes means that we are open to speculative housing developments without the right infrastructure such as GP practices and roads.
“My community is fantastic at producing Neighbourhood Plans, but they are ridden roughshod over in places such as Desford, where housing has been put in where the community does not want it.
“Will the Minister look at increasing the priority given to Neighbourhood Plans when communities and local planning authorities do not have an up-to-date Local Plan?”
Lee Rowley, Minister for Planning, responded “It is hugely frustrating when local plans are not in place. As my hon. Friend indicated, in his area the Lib Dem council has failed to do that, which is letting residents down.
“There have been changes as a result of the National Planning Policy Framework giving additional protection through Neighbourhood Plans, but district councils and those with planning responsibilities need to get their plans in place.”