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01/04/2016

CLG committee recommends review of NPPF

Words: Laura Edgar

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has recommended that a “comprehensive review” of the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) be carried out by the end of this Parliament.

The recommendation comes as part of a report published today (1 April), following the CLG’s inquiry into the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy.

The CLG said it found that there has not been “sufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring, evaluation or review of the NPPF since it was published in 2012”.

Therefore, the committee is calling for a review of the operation of national planning policy to pull together a number of pieces of work that have been done in this area, such as the Local Plans Expert Group’s report and the Housing and Planning Bill.

The government launched the consultation in December 2015. It was seeking views on specific changes to the NPPF, including broadening the definition of affordable housing to cover Starter Homes, encouraging development around new and existing commuter hubs and a “form of ‘presumption’ in favour of brownfield land”.

CLG committee chair Clive Betts, while welcoming some of the proposals in the consultation, said that at a time of “significant change” for the planning and housing sectors, “it’s important that people are reassured that the 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,” Betts said.

The report states that the committee is “disappointed” that four years after the publication of the NPPF, “17 per cent of local authorities have still not published local plans and 44 per cent have not yet adopted plans”.

In response to the report, the committee expects the government to set out how it intends to use its powers of intervention in local authorities, which do not have local plans in place by early 2017. It should also lay out how many local authorities it thinks will require intervention.

Betts said councils need to do more to identify suitable brownfield sites as well as to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by getting an adopted local plan in place.

He also called on the government to “reconsider the recommendation made by our predecessor committee that a statutory duty should be placed on local authorities to produce and maintain local plans”.

The consultation document proposes introducing a housing delivery test in an attempt to provide clarity on whether a local area is meeting its identified housing need. The committee is calling on the government to review this and identify the powers local authorities require to ensure developers build out sites.

Additionally, the committee asks for greater clarity on the definition of brownfield sites and about how presumption in favour of development will operate alongside brownfield site registers and permission in principle.

President of the RTPI, Phil Williams said he welcomed the recommendations in the report, “add[ing] our voice to the call for the government to undertake a wide-ranging, evidence based review of the NPPF”.

“Such a review should include the involvement of the planning sector and all major stakeholders. It must also be open and transparent, so that the outcome can be used to ensure that we are all able to monitor and influence sustainable development in our communities,” he said.

The report can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | Shuttershock

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