It is more than six years since a number of local community volunteers came together and started to talk about producing a Neighbourhood Plan for Knighton. Right from the outset we were not against development in principle but wanted to protect our local heritage and to limit unbalanced, unsightly and inappropriate development. We were also concerned to protect our green spaces from development.

We were granted formal approval from the City Council in September 2016 to be the designated body to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for Knighton. The Council’s Local Plan is also very important as it sets the context for a Neighbourhood Plan and our Steering Group has held regular meetings with Council Planning Officers. A draft Local Plan was issued for consultation on 14th September 2020 and it does incorporate some of the policies which we proposed for our Neighbourhood Plan, but not all of them. The Local Plan has been delayed and we expect the next draft to appear in 2022.

A great deal has changed in the last 2 years that has created uncertainty about the effectiveness of the entire neighbourhood planning process. A Planning White Paper was issued by Government in August 2020 which included radical proposals to replace the ‘outdated planning system’ with a US-style zoning system, with the aim of delivering 300,000 new homes every year.

Under the White Paper proposals local areas would be divided into either Growth, Renewal or Protection zones. In Growth areas all development would be approved subject to meeting local design standards. In Renewal areas there would be a “presumption in favour of development” for densification and infill development. Development would be restricted in Protection zones.

The White Paper was deeply controversial and the corresponding Planning Bill to make these changes in law has yet to appear. In December 2021 Housing Secretary Michael Gove told the House of Commons he would support a backbencher’s bill proposing ‘Street Votes’, which would give homeowners the power to radically densify an existing suburban street if a majority of its residents vote in favour.

View of a suburban street in spring to raise the issue of how dense development should be

How dense should your street be?