HOUSING and development, especially on green space is an issue that is close to the hearts of many local people. I receive a very large amount of correspondence from local people regarding planning developments in towns and villages across the constituency.

I have campaigned heavily for local communities to have a bigger say in planning proposals in the areas where they live. During the election campaign, I knocked thousands of doors, and one of the issues that people across South Gloucestershire raised was our ability to affect planning locally, and my aim as an MP is to serve and protect the needs of communities within the constituency.

At present, local communities and neighbourhoods have no formal means to appeal against any planning permission awarded by the council unless going through a judicial review. I very much support local people being given the right to appeal, particularly where a decision is taken that is contrary to an existing or pending neighbourhood plan and conflict with local development objectives of a community.

I met with and raised the prospect of a neighbourhood right of appeal for local communities before the general election. As a result of work from a number of MPs who are also concerned about protecting our local green spaces, a neighbourhood right of appeal against planning decisions that cut across a neighbourhood plan has been added to the Housing and Planning Bill. These proposals will focus on protecting emerging neighbourhood plans from speculative developments, which I and many residents have long felt, undermine them.

For too long, many communities and neighbourhoods have been deterred from producing a neighbourhood plan for fear they may be jeopardised by decisions made on planning applications in their local areas by local planning authorities.

The neighbourhood right of appeal would allow neighbourhood planning bodies to appeal against the granting of permission that conflicts with the policies of a made or well-advanced neighbourhood plan.

The neighbourhood right of appeal could be imposed when there is a high level of community opposition against particular proposals. While the details of the proposals continue to be debated, they are a huge step forward to give a voice back to our local communities and protect our towns and villages from over development. Grounds for appeal do not solely need to be based on a neighbourhood plan, they could also include a lack of sufficient infrastructure and non-compliance with government guidance, such as green belt proposals.

This does not mean that every planning proposal will be contested and appealed. The vast majority would progress without any appeals and only the most controversial proposals would be affected, but the plans would allow community concerns to be dealt with more efficiently and equitably than the current judicial review system.

This neighbourhood right of appeal would give back local people and residents the opportunity to have a say in what goes on around them and would help to deliver localism and rebalance the flawed planning system we currently have.

I am keen to hear your views on this issue, so please do contact me on luke.hall.mp@parliament.uk and share your comments.