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Government rejects most recommendations of NPPF review

The UK government has rejected most of the recommendations made by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee following its inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).03 Mar 2015

The Committee opened the inquiry last year and issued a report of its findings in December. The report found that the NPPF "needs to do more to protect against unsustainable development in England" and recommended a number of changes to the Framework and the way it was applied.

The government issued its response (28-page / 377 KB PDF) to the report last week. The response said the government was keen to avoid the "unnecessary recreation of the top-down planning regime that we abolished in the Localism Act". It said the government had "no immediate plans to introduce a statutory requirement [for councils] to get local plans in place", and was resistant to recommendations that it should place a positive duty on authorities to work together on joint core strategies.

The government restated its policy that green belt boundaries were "entirely a matter for [local planning authorities]", rejecting a recommendation that councils should be encouraged to review their green belt land. A recommendation to establish a fund to enable the remediation of brownfield sites was also rejected, as the government considered that existing initiatives "provide a strong stimulus to promote development and maximise the number of new homes on suitable brownfield land".

The government was satisfied that existing provisions gave clear guidance on the meaning of "sustainable development" and on the production of strategic housing market assessments and that sufficient protection was given to the environment under the NPPF. However, the response said consideration would be given to "changes to planning guidance to clarify the operation of the five-year housing land supply".

Committee chair, Clive Betts MP, expressed his disappointment in the government's response and accused the government of "burying its head in the sand about ... important public concerns" about the operation of the Framework.

“Our report didn’t call for an overhaul of the NPPF but rather a series of changes aimed at ensuring it does the job it is intended to do," said Betts in a statement. "By refusing to countenance these changes, the government risks damaging the good work that went into producing the NPPF and undermining the confidence of communities across the country in both the planning system and local decision making.”