Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:20 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham 6:20 pm, 9th April 2019

I thank the Minister for that point. I will come on to that. Like all Members of Parliament, I want to see my communities empowered in planning decision making. In Witham town, there was recently an application for Gimsons—a site at River View in Witham—which is deemed a visually important site and is highly regarded by everyone in the community. The current local plan protects it from development. The draft local plan, which could be two years away from adoption, recommends approximately 40 dwellings, but an application for 78 came along and was granted permission. The residents were appalled that their views were ignored.

I am a great believer in neighbourhood plans and I encourage all my parishes to develop them. We want much more support for community-based planning and neighbourhood plans, particularly with parish councils. I urge the Minister and his team to give more resource to parishes and communities so we can ensure that they are protected from developers, who sometimes come along wanting to rip up the five-year land supply and to challenge councils and communities. Importantly, we must ensure that there are resources and that place-shaping can happen. The Minister has already spoken about that.

My final point is about the ways in which we can support housing and development. The Minister spoke about garden settlements. We have had many conversations and I urge him to ask the Secretary of State to reply to me—we have some outstanding correspondence. There is a huge opportunity for all Departments to work together to ensure we have integrated planning. That means that we have the right infrastructure, including road and rail, health, schools, and public amenities and services. That is a great programme that our Government could take forward. I urge the Minister and his colleagues across Government to work in an integrated way so we can drive the right kind of local community outcomes on housing and planning.