The first #NPPF Select Committee Hearing – Notes

The first session included:

  • Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Jessica Bauly, Head of Infrastructure, Confederation of British Industry
  • John Rhodes, Director, Quod Planning

Sadly the CBI rep contributed very little and did not even seem aware of her own organisations policies on matters such as aggregates
The opening saw a lot of jumping around between process and policy issues which seemed to annoy the members of the committee as well as the audience.
John Rhodes argued for more housebuilding in the south east to counter systematic underprovision here.  Clives Betts asked him why he didnt support going back to regional spatial strategies.  John argued that you needed to take a long term view rather than on one or two years mortgage availability.
Dr Adam Marshall conceded that the NPPF would only lead to a ‘marginal improvement’ to process, which was ‘60% of their concerns with the planning system.
Clive Betts had a killer line of questioning about whether the ‘significant harm’ test meant you had to approve things that were harmful.  John Rhodes had the rather limp defence that it simply meant you shouldn’t refuse things were the harm wasnt insignificant.  As of everything in planning was that black and white and wouldn’t be subject to days of argument at public inquiries.  He also rather inriguingly claimed that the wording was not that preferred by the practitioners group and was added later.  A line that High Ellis later picked up on.  It seems that a lot of odur will be laid at the treasury for the hash they made of the drafting.
Heidi Alexander asked iIs the presumption a blank cheque for planning lawyers because of threat of appeals?   John Rhodes again limply argued that as the NPPF was shorter there would be less for planning lawyers to argue about.  Hmm Lawyers can argue for months about a single sentence if it is badly drafted.
John Rhodes also said the draft was altered to weaken the strength of the local plan to less than what section 38(6) of the act implied.  He also said not to be worried if you had no local plan as the NPPF would act as your local plan.  Be very worried, so opponents of the NPPF are accused of being alarmists.  With defenders like John Rhodes it is surprising their isnt a march on parliament with flymos and pinking shears.<

There was a question about the ‘amorphous’ definition of sustainable development.  John Rhodes somewhat sneeringly suggested it was a holy grail’ noone can agree on.  You got the feeling that he rather despises the thought of sustainable development as a fuzzy green idea that gets in the way of his clients ambitions.  He said nothing to dispel that very obvious impression.  He even claimed that the NPPF did not have to define sustainability.  Rather odd as the NPPF defines sustainability as everything the NPPF says.
John Rhodes said he was not a fan of RSS but was a fan of the informal cooperation at subregional level, claiming this works rather well.  Go tell that to So many places like Stevenage and Luton where existing joint planning arrangements are falling apart without a clear mechanism to require larger than local needs to be met.
Dr Adam Marshall agreed that  planning above a local level but below a national can get lost.
The next set of witness where:

  • Paul Cheshire, Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Alex Morton, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Exchange
  • Dr Hugh Ellis, Chief Planner, Town and Country Planning Association

Dr High Elliss argues that England is not a nation that could be run without strategic planning and that the evidence base r wholesale deregulation was not there.  He used the case of the land use futures report and the threat to our agricultural land from sea level rise as an example of a future threat that required a planned response.

 Alex Morton of the Policy Exchange has a wacky argument that post war planning was partly about a socialist command economy that greatly annoyed High Ellis who at times could barely contain his anger and frustration atr the bilge coming from Alex Morton.
Clive Betts picked up that much of the NPPF came straight from Policy Exchange ideas and Alex Morton gave an extended plug for their forthcoming even more extreme pamphlet.  Alex made classic american pro sprawl anti sustainable development comments that planning should have nothing to do with density or controlling car use.  He even made the suggestion that only those people about a street away should decide on planning applications – after being heavily compensated by the developers to vote the right way.  You can certainly see those same people being sued to high heaven by those affected by the downstream flooding and traffic congestion caused by the development.
Hugh Ellis argued there was no spatial awareness in NPPF -it was  largely written for the SE of England while areas such as Liverpool 1 would be left to rot.  ON the ‘presumption’ he argues that its toughening up in circular Circular 14/85 led to 33,000 appeals a the system grounds to a halt  and instead the conservatives introduced the plan-led system.  He said the section on the presumption was ‘pooly drafted’ and that he was amazed how the drafting of the NPPF had bypassed civil servants.Lets jope there are some questions on this when ministers are called.  He saw the NPPF as introducing 5 new reasons to judicially review decisions.  [these are easy to see, significance, definition of sustainability, whether formulation of presumption is contrary to section 38(6), whether formulation of presumption is contrary to case-law on balance and material considerations, & whether a development meets ‘objectively assessed need’ given the weak definition of this.]  He also argued that key users of plans are not just lay people as plans are quasi-legal documents and so planning policy has to be clear and unambiguous.
Paul Cheshire made some economic arguments that sadly saw some of the committees eye glaze over but interested me.  He argued that prices should inform planning matters but should not be the overriding consideration.  He also argued that allowing small houses was counterproductive as it simply meant the stock of larger houses was small and people paid to much for them – here here.
Alex Morton argued that planning should not be about ‘vision’ unless you are planning garden cities !

Sir John Lawton #NPPF ‘terrifying’

 Mark Avery RSPB

Professor Sir John Lawton FRS described the coalition government’s proposed ‘dismantling of the planning system‘ as ‘truly terrifying‘ and the ‘backpedalling‘ on climate change in George Osborne’s conference speech as being ‘deeply worrying‘.

Sir John, who is an RSPB Vice PresidentChair of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and a past trustee of WWF UK spoke of the importance of birds in his life as he spoke to the 500+ RSPB members in the QEII Centre in London on Saturday.  He was a member of the Young Ornithologists’ Club as a child and helped run the RSPB Members’ Group in York.

Sir John volunteered in his youth at the Loch Garten Operation Osprey site where he said that volunteers were allowed a bath a week at the Boat of Garten Hotel. He had the audience laughing when he said the volunteers would appear at the hotel, say ‘ospreys’ and the staff would hold their noses and point in the direction of the bathroom.

Sir John was the last Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which was abolished by the coalition government in the bonfire of the quangos. The RCEP has  a distinguished line of important environmental reports to its credit including reports on lead pollution, energy and environmental planning.

Sir John was asked by the last Labour government to report on the adequacy of the protected area network for wildlife protection and produced a much-heralded report which was accepted by the current government.  Indeed the Natural Environment White Paper published by Defra this year set up funding for Nature Improvement Areas and Sir John revealed that there had been 78 Applications for funding for these areas which demonstrates the enthusiasm for them and also how much they are needed.  It is likely that funding will allow about half a dozen such projects to go forward.

It is perhaps the contrast between Defra’s intent to fund some habitat recovery work despite its own depleted budgets and the actions of the Department of Communities and Local Government, twinned with the Chancellor’s ‘not too fast’ approach to addressing global warming, that led Sir John to say that there are ‘obvious conflicts of views within government‘.

Sir John is a very worthy recipient of the RSPB Medal and his speech illustrated his love of birds and the whole of nature, his affection for the RSPB which he said had been an important influence through his life and his feisty outspoken nature for which he is both greatly admired and respected.

The Full DCLG #NPPF Select Committee Programme

Evidence
The Committee has received well over 100 written submissions to the inquiry, reflecting
the significant level of interest that the Government’s proposals have stimulated
amongst public, professionals and the media. These submissions will be published on the
Committee’s website on Tuesday 11 October.
The Committee plans to hold four oral evidence sessions, covering the following aspects
of the debate:

1 st oral evidence session – Monday 10 October, 4.20pm, Grimond Room, Portcullis House
• Will the draft NPPF be good for business?
Witnesses: British Chambers of Commerce; CBI; and John Rhodes, Quod Planning
• What are the main principles of the changes proposed by the NPPF?
Witnesses: Policy Exchange; Paul Cheshire, the London School of Economics; the
Town and Country Planning Association.

2 nd oral evidence session – Monday 17 October, 4.20pm, Grimond Room, Portcullis
House
• Different perspectives on the NPPF
Witnesses: Home Builders Federation, British Property Federation and the
National Trust
• The views of planning practitioners and planning authorities
Witnesses: the Planning Officers Society and the Local Government Association

3rd oral evidence session – Monday 24 October, 4.20pm, the Grimond Room, Portcullis
House
• The treatment of specific policy areas in the draft NPPF
• The views of environmental groups

Witnesses: to be confirmed

4 th oral evidence session – Monday 7 November, 4.20pm, the Grimond Room, Portcullis
House

• Summarising the major themes of the debate; the views of professional bodies
• DCLG Ministers
Witnesses: to be confirmed
Further information
Media queries during the course of this inquiry should be directed to the CLG Committee
Media Officer, Hannah Pearce on 0207 219 8430 or at pearcehm@parliament.uk .
Committee Membership is as follows: Clive Betts (Chair, Lab), Heidi Alexander (Lab), Bob
Blackman (Con), Simon Danczuk (Lab), Stephen Gilbert (Lib Dem), David Heyes (Lab), George
Hollingbery (Con), James Morris (Con) Mark Pawsey, (Con) , Steve Rotheram (Lab), Heather
Wheeler (Con).
Specific Committee Information: clgcom@parliament.uk 020 7219 1353 or 020 7219 4972

This afternoons first session of the DCLG select committee into the #NPPF

EVIDENCE SESSION

National Planning Policy Framework

Monday 10 October 2011, the Grimond Room, Portcullis House

4.20 pm

  • Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Jessica Bauly, Head of Infrastructure, Confederation of British Industry
  • John Rhodes, Director, Quod Planning

5.10 pm

  • Paul Cheshire, Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Alex Morton, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Exchange
  • Dr Hugh Ellis, Chief Planner, Town and Country Planning Association

Sunday Times on #NPPF and the £1 billion New Homes Bonus ‘bribes’

Sunday Times

Ministers are offering £1bn in housing „bribes‟
The government is accused of offering £1 billion to cash-strapped councils to allow development projects on greenfield sites

The government has been accused of trying to bribe councils with £1 billion in handouts to force through housing developments on greenfield sites.

At a time when almost all local authorities are having to make cuts, the government is planning to give out large grants. These will be given only to local authorities that participate in a boom in building which the Conservatives say is necessary for the economy.

Research by The Sunday Times reveals the full extent of how much councils will receive if they give the go-ahead for big developments in their areas.

Under the new homes bonus, a development of 3,700 houses proposed for East Coker in Somerset — immortalised by TS Eliot in his meditative work Four Quartets — would net the local authority about £54m over six years in government grants.

The development has met stiff opposition locally and from further afield, with Jeanette Winterson, the novelist, and Sir Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, among those lending their support.

Martin Sowerbutts, secretary of the East Coker Preservation Trust, said: “The money provides a huge temptation for a council that is up against it in terms of its budget. ”

Marcus Fysh, a Conservative councillor on the Liberal Democrat-controlled South Somerset district council, added: “The council has its beady eye on large sums of money which it will use for vanity projects such as indoor tennis and a big swimming pool. They are coincidentally costing those facilities at about £50m. The government believes these payments will help the local people but the reality on the ground is that will rarely happen.”

Lucy Still, a 30-year-old mother who runs a beauty salon in East Coker, said the homes could ruin the village. “This is a wonderful picturesque setting. The drive down the lanes to the village immediately winds you down but this could just become another part of Yeovil,” she said.

Ten other large developments identified in The Sunday Times last month — including Newmarket in Suffolk, Durham, Harrogate in North Yorkshire and Cambridge — would bring their local authorities a total of £684m over six years. Another 220 projects on greenfield sites are waiting for council approval.

In total the government has budgeted for bonus payments of at least £250m a year for such developments over the next four years. The scheme has led to accusations that it was bribing councils to accept unpopular housing schemes.

Peter Martin, an independent councillor on the Tory-led Cotswold district council, which is facing a number of developments in its area, described the payments as little more than “bribery”. The West Country branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also said the payments “amount to a bribe to allow building on greenfield
sites”.

The new homes bonus was launched in April, several months before the government began consultations on its controversial new national planning policy framework (NPPF). But ministers are expecting it to be a key element in their campaign to overcome local opposition to large development projects.

Payments under the scheme are calculated by taking the national average of the council tax band in which the new properties fall and giving the council the equivalent amount in grants for each of the following six years. The money will not be “ringfenced” so the councils can use it to maintain other cash-starved services.
The NPPF aims to establish a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and has provoked protests from environmental groups including the National Trust and the CPRE that it will lead to a huge increase in building on greenfield sites and erode the green belt.

The new homes bonus is specifically designed to “sit alongside the existing planning framework” although the government also maintains that the payments are not intendedo encourage housing development “which would otherwise be inappropriate in planning terms”.

The Department for Communities and Local Government defended the bonus. “In the past, communities haven‟t shared the benefits of growth. This was wrong,” it said.

“Councils that choose growth will receive extra new homes bonus funding. That is not a bribe, it is sensible recognition of the benefits that growth can and should bring to communities.”

The CPRE said: “This scheme is likely to force local authorities already under considerable financial pressure to consent to housing development that does not serve the long-term interest of sustainable development.”

Daily Mail on the New Homes Bonus and the #NPPF

Daily Mail

Councils are being offered £1billion to push through plans to build new homes on greenfield sites.

Ministers were accused of bribery yesterday when it emerged that millions upon millions will be used to gather support for the controversial policy.

The ‘new homes bonus’ will go to local authorities that participate in a building boom the Tories say is vital for the economy.

For example, a development of 3,700 houses at East Coker in Somerset would net the local council around £54million in grants.

Ministers will tell campaigners that they have won in their battle against changes to planning laws, which they said would allow developers to ‘concrete over the countryside’

It comes at a time when councils are being asked to make swingeing cuts.

Peter Martin, an independent councillor on Tory-led Cotswold district council, described the payments as little more than ‘bribery’.

And the West Country branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the payments ‘amount to a bribe to allow building on greenfield sites’.

The bonus was announced in the spring, but it only emerged yesterday how much was being spent on it.

Ministers will allow the National Trust to claim ‘victory’ in its fight against planning reforms – even though most of the Coalition’s controversial changes will be implemented anyway.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, said: ‘Peace is breaking out all over’

They will let campaigners say they have won the argument against Government proposals, which protesters claim will allow developers to concrete over the countryside.

Some changes will be made to appease lobby groups, but the vast majority of the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework will go forward as intended.

The blueprint, which slashes planning guidance from hundreds of pages to just 52, provoked a huge row when it was unveiled in the summer.

Changes will be made to tighten up its meaning after officials conceded too much was open to interpretation.

But the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which campaigners say makes it harder for councils to stop building projects, is unlikely to be dropped.

A Cabinet source said: ‘The National Trust will have to claim victory.’

The most significant change is the reinstatement of a ‘brownfield first’ rule to ensure previously developed sites are built on before open countryside.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, of the National Trust, said: ‘Peace is breaking out all over.’

The Trust wants to see at least ten changes to the framework, including dropping the demand for 20 per cent more land for building and allowing communities a limited right of appeal against development.

On the money given to councils, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: ‘Councils that choose growth will receive extra new homes bonus funding. That is not a bribe; it is sensible recognition of the benefits growth can and should bring to communities.’

Chris Brown #NPPF ‘Government is much better at politics than the National Trust and are intent on giving them the appearance of victory while ploughing on’

Chris Brown Blog

Planning’s role in constraining housing supply was well and truly exploded by the chief executive of Barratts at the Conservative Party conference. Mark Clare is clearly of the view that planning has nothing to do with housing supply at the moment. This rather undermines the original Government line that planners were the ‘enemies of enterprise’ and that the system needed to be radically overhauled in order to achieve growth. Or at least the growth story is moving from one about housing to one about ‘businesses out there’ ‘stuck in the mud of our planning system’ according to David Cameron.

The Government also seems perilously close to falling into the bear trap of judicial review (JR) on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Where Government purports to be undertaking a consultation while making pronouncements that suggest they have already made up their minds, dangers exist. I suspect this threat will be held over them as the post consultation negotiations continue in darkened rooms around Whitehall.

It will be interesting to see if any property developers are allowed into those discussions after last weekends ill judged cash for access coverage. Some ministers at conference were stipulating that they would only go to dinner if there were no property developers present and while the BPF did apparently dine with John Howell, the original architect of Open Source Planning, it was by all accounts a relatively small and quiet affair.

There were some signs, particularly in the Telegraph’s hastily arranged NPPF fringe meeting with Oliver Letwin (understood to have been appointed as NPPF enforcer by the PM and fingered as the source of a number of articles in this weekend’s press), Fiona Reynolds from the National Trust and Shaun Spiers from CPRE, of a more rational debate breaking out. These three were amusingly photographed together by the Telegraph before the event but it is clear that there is a lot of mutual respect and potential for agreement. The Prime Minister summed this up the next day when he said ‘Of course we are open to constructive ideas about how to get this right’. Or maybe that was just to try and neutralise the JR threat as it was clearly the line all ministers had been given.

There is however a view emerging that Government is much better at politics than the National Trust and are intent on giving them the appearance of victory while ploughing on with most of the substantive changes to the system.

Despite that I’m going to have a try at briefly marshalling the areas of constructive rationality and potential consensus that I picked up in Manchester.

Let’s start with the planning system itself.

Interestingly Fiona did try to mount a defence of the planning system but I didn’t feel she was getting a lot of support as the consensus seemed to be that the system had gradually become sclerotic, increasing in cost and reducing in speed over time. Pretty much everyone (local authorities, communities and developers) seemed to agree that a simpler, cheaper, quicker system was worth trying to achieve. I can understand why Fiona mounted the defence because there are certainly still voices out there arguing for the complete dismantling of the planning system but I sense that they are being increasingly marginalised, not least by the successful National Trust and Telegraph campaigns.

There were concerns raised that a shorter national planning guidance document will inevitably be vaguer and create more work for the lawyers.

Adrian Penfold’s work on simplifying development regulation seemed to be having some traction and it may be that a good route forward in this area would be to have a further forensic review of how the planning system works alongside building regulations and standards like Building for Life. This may not need to be imposed top down but simply be offered as best practice for authorities. This might be twinned with a Gold standard league table for those authorities that make the best plans (including supporting communities making neighbourhood plans) and process planning applications well, quickly and cheaply and a similar league table for developers. This could all be taken out of the NPPF where it is viewed as sitting somewhat uncomfortably and mainly for old times sake.

Turning then to the NPPF policies.

A term that seemed to encapsulate the potential consensus ground was ‘Smart Growth’. There is definitely broad consensus about the need for growth and that that growth should be sustainable in Brundtland definition terms.

There are two views here. One is that the entire NPPF is the definition of sustainable development and the other that the 2005 or the Brundtland definitions should be adopted. The NPPF is a very uncomfortable document at the moment because while it quotes Brundtland it then goes on to undermine the definition by saying in paragraph 10, for example, ‘delivering sustainable development means…. providing an increased supply of housing’.

There does seem to be consensus about the need to have the lawyers crawl all over the words in the NPPF because ‘every one matters’ to quote Oliver Letwin and because almost everyone (except many lawyers and planning consultants) are worried that the system will become one of ‘planning by appeal’.

There is also likely to be consensus over specifics that don’t currently leap out of the draft document like protecting Sites of Special Scientific Interest, developing sustainably located brownfield land first and ensuring that the importance of affordable housing is recognised. One of these days Government will notice the power of Web 2.0 and wiki style techniques in building consensus on documents like this rather than their current dinosaur like consultation processes.

Interestingly one of the very strong consensus themes that I picked up was the importance of design. This came from all corners, Oliver Letwin, Tom Bloxham, Fiona Reynolds and particularly Conservative party members. Tom made the radical proposal that the Use Classes Order should be done away with and replaced with a design led system. I suspect that radical may not be achievable through the current consultation process but the idea of developing parallel processes that fix the planning system’s inability to ensure delivery of well designed buildings and places seems timely and to have the potential to work well alongside neighbourhood planning.

Mark Clare lamented the demise of CABE but perhaps the remaining vestige of that organisation could be the grain of sand around which a system that secures good design accretes. Ideas doing the rounds included neighbourhood design panels, developer league tables based on corporate responsibility around design quality, sustainability, local labour and community engagement (and one fringe suggested happiness and wellbeing given the importance of design to this increasingly important area) and reduced weighting for financial receipts in public land developer procurements.

Localism

There was a tendency in the fringe discussions to conflate the NPPF and localism as one and the same thing. There is an increasing consensus that decisions need to be pushed as far down as possible and an increasing resistance to the top down dictats that the NPPF represents. The majority view in Manchester seemed to be that everywhere is different and so ‘one size fits all’ policies are not appropriate.

There is resistance to this argument from both sides of the NPPF debate as the top of an organisational pyramid is easier to influence than the multiheaded bottom (to mix a metaphor). There are concerns about the need to avoid competing places creating a race to the bottom but the idea of competing places does suggest that the role of the NPPF (and core strategies) may be to provide a framework that regulates the potential negative externalities in competing plans. There was talk, for example, about some local authorities reducing Community Infrastructure Levy rates to attract development from their neighbours.

Interestingly there was widespread support for urban Parish or community councils where local people are democratically elected at neighbourhood level to the job of organising the neighbourhood plan effort and the various other activities that both localism and Big Society imagine being done at neighbourhood level. This theme recurred at the London Assembly’s neighbourhood planning consultation event this week.

Transition

One of the most clearly explained areas of compromise is delaying the point in time at which the NPPF becomes a ‘material consideration’, or indeed the only consideration, in planning decisions to allow neighbourhoods and local authorities to put their plans in place.

There is a balance to be struck here to prevent prevarication while ensuring that plans can reasonably be delivered in the time period chosen. The time period will also need to be directly related to the resources available for plan making, particularly for neighbourhood plans.

One significant danger here is that rushed local authority plans will be skimpy documents, poorly consulted on, which have little if any site specific detail and therefore fail to achieve the wishes of the local community.

Conclusion

So the debate over the planning system may, or may not, be inching towards a compromise but the debate has absorbed a huge amount of energy and diverted people from a focus on those things that would get the housing market moving again. The Government seems to have accepted that reforming the planning system isn’t the answer to this but they were less than convincing in their announcements about the release of public land, Build Now Pay Later and using Right to Buy receipts to subsidise Affordable Rent homes, and particularly in the inflated employment claims they were making. For the detail on these we have to wait for a Housing Strategy in November.

Residents’ outcry as Government uses Dorset village as ‘poster boys’ for planning reforms – Telegraph

Telegraph

Residents’ outcry as Government uses Dorset village as ‘poster boys’ for planning reforms

For seven years the residents of Buckland Newton fought for the right to build affordable homes to rejuvenate their village.

But now the locals have an entirely new battle on their hands – to resist attempts by the Government to turn them into the “poster boys” for its controversial planning reforms.

Although the residents did not realise it, the Dorset village, which is in the constituency of the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, was a catalyst for the Coalition’s policy of allowing more development on green belt land. [They mean green field]

Ten new eco-friendly homes at Lydden Meadow on the edge of the village have been hailed as an unqualified success, as they have enabled several young families to stay in the community rather than being forced out by sky-high property prices.

But while local people are proud of what they have achieved, they are uncomfortable with the idea of their example being used to justify wholesale reforms of the planning laws.

William Burnett is among the residents who are unhappy with the idea of Buckland Newton’s story being exploited to encourage the development of green field sites elsewhere.

He said: “The reaction here was favourable but you just can’t say one size fits all and apply it everywhere.

“I am sure the Government is looking to use developments like this as an example to put leverage on pushing through more planning though.”

Another villager, who has a child at the local primary school, said: “In theory it’s a good idea but you can see why the local MP and the Government would jump on it and want it elsewhere.

“It’s a bit of a unique position here because the villagers introduced it themselves. Other places it would not work I imagine and on the whole people don’t want new housing, not in rural villages anyway.”

House prices in Buckland Newton are up to 10 times the average local wage, meaning young adults can rarely afford to stay in the village where they grew up.

Seven years ago a group of residents got together to form a Community Property Trust, and with financial backing from West Dorset district council, the Homes and Communities Association and the Tudor Trust, building work began on the new development in November.

All of the houses are now occupied, which residents say has helped to safeguard the future of the local pub, the post office, village hall and school.

Five of the properties are rented and five have been sold under a shared-ownership arrangement, which enables residents to buy up to 80 per cent of the property, though if they want to move they must adhere to a covenant which requires them to sell their equity to people with connections to the village.

Nicky Barker, a former parish councillor closely involved in the housing trust, said she could understand fears of the development being used as an excuse to loosen planning laws elsewhere.

She said: “If an area needs housing, it’s not certainly not easy but you can appreciate if others in bigger villages fear for too much development.

“It’s still a difficult route for a village and takes lots of volunteers to work to get things off the ground.

“If a village or community doesn’t want it, it will not happen. Here essentially the village owns the houses so it can control who lives in them.

“Elsewhere things might be different of course but we were way ahead of the Government on this and took it upon ourselves to take control.”

Mark Hammick, landlord at the Gaggle of Geese pub, said: “There’s a lot of villagers who could turn around on this and say ‘not in my back yard’ and you can appreciate that point of view. For some it may not suit.

“In some cases though if a village does not grow it dies. Some affordable housing was required here though and it will help the village in future years.”

The public outcry over the Government’s plans has forced ministers to draw up changes to the draft planning framework.

One of the most significant changes is expected to be the reinstatement of a “brown field first “ rule to ensure that sites which have already been built on are redeveloped before green belt land can be carved up.