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Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman calls for communities to be protected from “aggressive” developers

PUBLISHED: 20:16 30 January 2018 | UPDATED: 20:16 30 January 2018

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

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Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has called for greater protection for rural communities against “aggressive” developers.

Calling a debate in Parliament on local planning, Mr Freeman described how there was a “clear exploitation” of land supply rules by out of town developers.

Under the Localism Act, communities are able to draw up neighbourhood plans with a vision of where development should take place. But as local authorities have to demonstrate a five year land supply, if they fall short they have “both hands tied behind their back”, said Mr Freeman.

He said: “What has happened is developers have taken the opportunity of the five year land supply to put very substantial, large scale commuter housing estates in a number of villages close to Norwich without the necessary investment in services and infrastructure.”

Mr Freeman cited examples in Mid Norfolk of Dereham and Swanton Morley as feeling the pressure of house building on the periphery of Norwich.

He suggested areas like Lakenheath could provide opportunities for new towns.

“Developers are piling into Dereham putting big housing estates where it is easy and a string of villages between Dereham and Norwich have found themselves the subject of aggressive out of town developments,” he said.

“Swanton Morley has put together a magnificent plan but the examiner appointed by the district council struck out all their sensible conditions. One can’t help seeing the planning authority have got both hands tied behind their backs. They have no leg to stand on and they are terrified of being taken to court by developers.”

Housing minister Dominic Raab responded that changes are being made to National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to give greater protections to local authorities.

“We recognise some plans are being undermined because local authorities could not demonstrate a five year supply,” he said. “To seek to remedy this we issued a ministerial statement in December to ensure neighbourhood planning policy provided additional protection.

“The changes protect neighbourhood plans less than two years old as long as the local authority has a three year land supply. We are going to take forward this protection in the updated National Planning Policy Framework so local authorities will have the opportunity to have land supply agreed on an annual basis.”

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