MPs call for planning policy review

AN influential group of MPs has called for a comprehensive review of national planning policy.

The Communities & Local Government (CLG) Committee said the review should be carried out before the end of this parliament.

It made the recommendation following a committee inquiry into the Department for Communities and Local Government's consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy.

The inquiry report said there had been insufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring, evaluation or review of the National Planning Policy Framework since its publication in 2012.

An overall review of the operation of national planning policy should pull together the various significant pieces of work in this area, said the committee.

This work includes the Local Plans Expert Group report, the Housing and Planning Bill, and the technical consultation on the implementation planning changes.

Committee chairman Clive Betts said: "It is important that people are reassured that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) works effectively and that it supports sustainable development in their communities.

"The government needs to ensure there is confidence in the planning system by carrying out a comprehensive review of the NPPF by the end of this Parliament."

Communities would not benefit fully from the NPPF unless their local authorities properly fulfilled their responsibilities to publish and adopt Local Plans, said the committee.

Four years on from the publication of the National Planning Policy, 17% of local authorities had still not published Local Plans and 34% had not yet adopted Plans, said Mr Betts.

"Councils need to do more to identify suitable brownfield sites and to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by getting an adopted Local Plan in place.

The NPPF is designed to work side by side with local plans. It's simply not good enough that 34% of local authorities don't have an adopted plan."

The government needed to act to put an end to dawdling local authorities, said Mr Betts. A statutory duty should be placed on local authorities to produce and maintain Local Plans.

The committee said it welcomed a proposed housing delivery test to provide clarity about whether housing delivery in a local area is meeting identified housing need.

But it said that the proposed consequence of under-delivery – requiring local authorities to allocate more land for development – may not, by itself, mean that more houses will be built.

It said the government should review the proposals, and identify the powers local authorities ought to have in order to require or encourage developers to build out sites in their areas.

The committee said it supported the development of brownfield sites for housing where it contributes to meeting local housing needs.

But it asked for greater clarity about the definition of a 'brownfield sites'.

It also asked about how a presumption in favour of development would operate alongside brownfield site registers and permission in principle arrangements.


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