David Ruffley MP voices concerns about Government's new planning regime in the Commons

Tuesday, 27 March, 2012

David Ruffley spoke out at the House of Commons on Tuesday 27 March on National Planning and Policy Framework:

'Mr David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds) (Con): Bury St Edmunds is an unspoilt county market town, and its residents want to keep it that way. Will the Minister tell me whether neighbourhood plans can be used to block unwanted development?

Greg Clark: We encourage neighbourhood plans to set out, at a more local level than the council's plan, what should be the look and feel of towns. Bury St Edmunds is a town with a great deal of civic pride and would benefit from that. Neighbourhood plans have to be consistent with the broad approach of the local plan, but it is right that specific local details, which in towns such as my hon. Friend's may relate to architectural design and historical consistency, should be expressed in a neighbourhood plan. They would then become part of the formal plan and determine planning applications.'

Speaking after the House of Commons statement, David Ruffley said: 'Though I welcome the requirement that existing brownfield sites must now be considered for development before digging up green fields I am still concerned. The Minister in the House of Commons in effect said neighbourhood plans drawn up by parish councils or community groups will not on their own be able to block a Council Local Plan proposal for new homes. I am, therefore, still concerned about excessive residential home development in St Edmundsbury Council's draft Local Plan.

If we are not careful, in 20 years' time we won't know where the town ends and the villages begin. That is the fate potentially facing us in the case of Westley, the Fornhams, Rougham, Great Barton and Thurston.

It's perfectly clear to me that residents' groups as well as Parish Councils must urgently lobby their elected local borough councillors who will make the final decision. Send them the message: don't over develop Bury and lose this Jewel in the crown of East Anglia.'