Conservative MP Lucy Frazer and Councillors Julia Huffer and Joshua Schumann met with Kit Malthouse MP, Minister for Housing, at Westminster. The meeting was organised by Lucy and was convened in order to discuss how housing growth can be managed and how communities can be protected against speculative applications. Fordham and the surrounding villages, represented by Julia, Josh and Lucy, have been subjected to a large number of housing applications and the representatives wanted to take this issue to the highest level to air their concerns.
At the meeting the Minister for Housing highlighted the steps government are taking in order to protect communities and bolster their control in planning and housing development. The Minister explained the changes that have been introduced to help towns and villages protect themselves against developments in areas where they do not want it. The amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the document that governs the decision-making in planning, has strengthened local planning authorities’ ability to combat landbanking (where larger house builders hold on to developable land in order for values to rise) and ensure growth is focused on identified planned areas.
The Minister stressed the importance of having plans for growth in place. These plans should be community led and identify where housing, employment, green space and infrastructure should be. The changes to the NPPF have resulted in greater strength given to Neighbourhood Plans and identified how consideration can be given to ‘lack of delivery’ when determining applications, particularly aimed at those landbanking.
MP Lucy Frazer commented that "The meeting was very informative. Housing Minister Kit Malthouse emphasised the importance of local input into local plans and the steps the Government are taking to reduce landbanking. "More, better, faster" is the Housing Minister's mission statement. When housing is built it is vital that infrastructure of all kinds is there to support it first, and working with the local community is key."
In a joint statement Councillors Huffer and Schumann said “We took the opportunity to explain to the Minister that, despite our best efforts, we were being subjected to housing applications which were putting pressure on our communities. We were delighted to hear that measures were being introduced to give the local planning authority more power. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that the important issue of housing is one which is managed by the people it effects.”