The power of a “people’s plan” has been confirmed by a planning inspector’s rejection of three houses in the Green Belt at Hopwood.
In his decision the inspector refers more than ten times to policies contained in the recently adopted Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan.
In particular, he gives weight to the Neighbourhood Plan’s policy of restricting new housing in Hopwood within the village “envelope”. In dismissing the appeal over the refusal of permission for three houses in Ash Lane, the inspector says: “The proposal would be contrary to Policies H1 and H2 of the NP.”
Bromsgrove’s planning officers had previously recommended the three houses be approved and said the village boundary was not relevant.
Councillors turned down the plans last July, but only on the grounds of appearance, which could be amended.
The applicants appealed against this refusal, but in the meantime the Neighbourhood Plan had been adopted and its policies were among those used by the inspector to dismiss the appeal.
Parish councillor John Cypher said: “The significant relevance of the Neighbourhood Plan was most gratifying.”
He pointed out that this set a marker for future planning decisions in Alvechurch parish: “Recognition of the Hopwood village envelope gives us some good material for other applications.”
A Neighbourhood Plan being prepared jointly by Lickey & Blackwell and Cofton Hackett parish councils is nearing its final stages and a public referendum.
Barnt Green parish will be the only village area without a plan in place, a point made by Village reader Les Bailey who has been pressing the parish council to “get its act together”.