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CLG select committee calls for review of National Planning Policy Framework

The Communities and Local Government select committee has today published its report on the Government’s consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy. The report analysed and commented on the evidence collected by the committee, which included oral evidence from Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The select committee’s report emphasised that a significant number of local authorities still did not have an up-to-date local plan. Its main recommendation was that there should be a comprehensive review of the National Planning Policy Framework before the end of this parliament. However, there were other elements of the report that CPRE consider important:

- The Committee says that the Government needs to provide stronger policies to ensure that brownfield sites are developed before greenfield. The report endorses CPRE concerns that greenfield sites are coming forward unnecessarily in areas where brownfield sites with planning permission are available. This is something we recently emphasised in our report on the comparative speed of brownfield and greenfield development.

- The Committee calls on the Government to identify ways in which we can get developers to build out sites with planning permission more quickly.

- The Committee calls for the existing ‘rural exception sites’ policy to be kept. The policy allows local authorities to prioritise the building of affordable social housing for local needs on the edge of rural towns and villages. The report also says that the Government needs to set out how the need for affordable housing in rural communities should be met.

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), comments:

On brownfield sites

“The committee has rightly expressed concerns that greenfield sites are coming forward unnecessarily in areas where brownfield sites with permission are available. We’ve seen this happen in Cheshire, Durham, Lincolnshire, Salford and Swindon, to name just a few places. It is important that Government looks to implement policies that put brownfield first.

“Research has shown that brownfield sites are developed more quickly than greenfield once planning permission is in place, challenging the idea that brownfield is difficult or unprofitable to develop. To build the homes we need, the Government must now focus its energy on bringing forward brownfield sites, rather than forcing councils to release yet more countryside for development if high housing targets are not met.”

On small sites

“Since the inception of the NPPF many rural towns and villages have come under siege from multiple developers issuing speculative planning applications. Encouraging small sites on the edge of settlements through a presumption in favour of their development will mean that many more villages and towns across the country will come under pressure – particularly where no local plan is in place, and where high local housing targets are inevitably not met.

“If the housing delivery test comes into force, developers will have yet another opportunity to challenge the planning process. Simply releasing more land in the terms the Government is proposing will not solve the housing crisis, and we won’t build homes that meet the needs of local people. We should keep the current policy on rural exception sites as the Select Committee recommends, give local authorities more encouragement to set realistic housebuilding targets, and set financial sanctions on developers to pressure them to build out sites with planning permission in a timely fashion.”

See Paul’s comments in today’s i or on The Independent.

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