DCLG urged to clarify plans for flagship National Planning Policy Framework

Communities and Local Government Committee says local authorities "must be able to have confidence in the effective operation" of the framework drawn up by central government to guide development decisions

By Civil Service World

01 Apr 2016

The Department for Communities and Local Government has not carried out "sufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring" of its flagship National Planning Policy Framework, according to a committee of MPs.

The NPPF was published in March 2012, setting out DCLG's national guidelines for ensuring that planning and development in England is carried out sustainably, while also aiming to give councils enough flexibility to respond to local needs.

DCLG signalled its intention to update the NPPF at the end of last year, with changes including broadening out the definition of affordable housing, allowing more development around commuter hubs, and introducing a housing delivery test to monitor whether houses promised in the Local Plans drawn up by authorities are being built.

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The latest report by the commons Communities and Local Government Committee looks at the fresh changes proposed by DCLG, and says the department must do more to provide clarity about the timescale for the revised NPPF and explain any delays that extend beyond the summer.

"The government, stakeholders in the housing and planning sectors, and local communities must be able to have confidence in the effective operation of the NPPF," the MPs say.

"We do not believe that thus far there has been sufficient robust, objective and evidence-based monitoring, evaluation or review of the NPPF. 

"To ensure that proper consideration is given to the impact of changes resulting from this consultation, and from other developments in the sector, a comprehensive review of the operation of the NPPF should be carried out before the end of this parliament."

The committee also says it is "disappointed" that 17% of local authorities have yet to publish Local Plans, which are required by central government to show that local authorities are both complying with the NPPF and taking on board residents's views on proposed developments.

Responding to the committee's report, a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesperson said the NPPF put local people "at the heart of deciding where development should and shouldn't go", and said 84% of councils had now drawn up a Local Plan. 

"It ensures there is sustainable development and that all new homes are built to a high quality while protecting the Green Belt and the countryside," they added.

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