"Nimbys have had their day":
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New planning minister suggests Nimbys have had their day - Telegraph
Housing minister's survey spin angers campaigners
By Western Morning News | Posted: August 04, 2014
By Phil Goodwin, WMN reporter, Twitter: @goodwin_phil
Residents of Feniton, Devon, successfully objected to plans, lodged under current planning rules, to increase the size of their village by almost 42%
Rural communities without local council plans have rejected Government claims that “nimbyism” was on the wane thanks to planning reforms.
New planning minister Brandon Lewis claimed the results of a recent survey suggested the “not-in-my-back-yard” lobby had been won over by the New Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) He said there had been a “dramatic swing” in public opinion – with almost half of people now in favour of new housing in their area – prompted by a move to push sustainable development and give locals a greater say.
The comments have caused anger in the countryside where the reforms have triggered a huge surge in planning applications for new house building – often in the face of significant local opposition.
Claire Wright, an independent district and county councillor, who is bidding to be the next MP for East Devon, said the claims were “nonsense”.
“The planning changes have forced communities into exhausting battles against inappropriate and unwanted housing,” she added. “Appeals are through the roof thanks to the vagueness of the policy and the result is high-paid lawyers battling it out, as we had in the Feniton super inquiry. The idea that people can now choose better where new housing goes is just complete nonsense.”
The minister’s claims came after the Government published the results of a British Social Attitudes survey which found that the proportion of people in favour of house building in their area had risen from 28% to 47% between 2010 and 2013. By contrast, the proportion of people opposed to the construction of new homes in their communities fell from 46% to 31% in that time.
The results were drawn from face-to-face interviews with around 1,000 people, and showed the highest opposition to new homes among respondents living in a small city or town (34%), followed by villages and suburbs (32%).
Opposition was lowest among those living in large cities at just 17%. Mr Lewis, who was promoted to Housing and Planning minister in the recent reshuffle, hailed the survey as evidence that reforms had made house building more acceptable. “Since 2010 there has been a dramatic swing in public opinion about house building,” he said. “Now that local people have a bigger say over where new housing goes they are much happier to support housing building in their area.”
A researcher working on the study told the WMN they would not have framed the results in quite this way, adding that it showed that a third of people still opposed house building in their area.
The study said: “Home owners, those living in small cities and towns and in rural areas were still more likely to be opposed than renters and those living in large cities.”
The Coalition has faced controversy over its decision to rip up 1,200 pages of planning protections and replace them with a new planning rulebook with a new bias in favour of sustainable development. It has made it hard for councils to refuse schemes where they are unable to show an approved local plan setting targets for housing or demonstrate they have a five-year supply of development land available.
Susie Bond, an independent East Devon district council for Feniton – where villagers banded together to fight off plans for many more homes – said people living where local authorities had failed to approve local plans had no choice but to fight. “When we were told as a village that we had to have a 5% increase, we engaged with the process to see where we could put them,” she added. “But because we have no local plan, under the new rules developers were able to come and target us and we ended up with something like 42% – that’s not nimbyism, that’s just fighting inappropriate development.”
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, dismissed the report as a “propaganda bulletin” for the Government’s planning reforms.
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