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LPEG review too focused on housebuilding

23 March 2016

On 16 March, the Local Plans Expert Group (LPEG) presented recommendations on how to speed up and simplify the process of making local plans.

The review was led by John Rhodes, a planning consultant and a member of the practitioner group who produced the widely-criticised draft National Planning Policy Framework in 2011, which led to the Telegraph’s Hands Off Our Land campaign. In 2011 there was at least one environmental representative. This time there were none.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said:

“This review has been too focused on releasing land for housebuilding.

“Some recommendations might help address problems, such as reducing the scope to push through housing schemes via planning appeals. But there is nothing to suggest that the panel thinks that housing need assessments should be made more realistic, even as the over-inflated assessments we see continue to allow housebuilders to cherry-pick greenfield sites.

“Other recommendations read like a wish list for housebuilders. More encouragement for Green Belt reviews. Calls to release a reserve of 20% more land for housebuilding. Reducing the scope for local people to speak at a local plan hearing. [1]

“We need better local plans and more promptly, but a narrow focus on housebuilding will not help achieve this. The Government needs to work with a far more representative range of groups so that future local plans do more to protect and improve our countryside, as well as providing for more houses.”

[1] NB: see paragraph 9.35 of the LPEG report.

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