The Communities & Local Government (CLG) Committee are calling for a comprehensive review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to be carried out before the end of this Parliament.
Their report, ‘Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on national planning policy’, has found that there has not been sufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring, evaluation or review of the National Planning Policy Framework since its publication in 2012.
The Committee is calling for an overall review of the operation of national planning policy to pull together the various significant pieces of work in this area, including the Local Plans Expert Group report, the Housing and Planning Bill, and the technical consultation on the implementation planning changes.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:
“We welcome many of the proposals in the Government’s consultation. However, particularly at a time of significant change for the planning and housing sectors, it’s 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”.
The Committee believes that communities will not benefit fully from the NPPF unless their local authorities properly fulfil their responsibilities to publish and adopt Local Plans. According to the CLG Committee, 17 per cent of local authorities still have not published Local Plans and 34 per cent have not yet adopted Plans. This is being seen as a huge disappointment.
Clive Betts MP, said:
“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 per cent of local authorities don’t have an adopted plan.
“The Government needs to act to put an end to dawdling local authorities and indicate whether they will take up the recommendation by the Minister’s own Local Plans Expert Group, and we call on him 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 CLG has welcomed the proposed ‘housing delivery test’ which should clarify whether housing delivery in a local area is meeting identified housing need, but warns 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.
They do support the development of appropriate brownfield sites, but ask for greater clarity about the definition of a ‘brownfield sites’ and about how a presumption in favour of development will operate alongside brownfield site registers and permission in principle arrangements.