Saturday, 7 June 2014

Parliamentary committee to inquire into the National Planning Policy Framework: "forcing councils to approve ad-hoc planning applications"

Parallel to Friday's debate on the NPPF in the Commons:
Futures Forum: Private Bill to amend the National Planning Policy Framework: second reading: Friday 6th June

... the Communities and Local Government Select Committee is conducting its own inquiry into the National Planning Policy Framework:
Futures Forum: Parliamentary review on the NPPF: deadline Weds 8th May

Here is a handy overview from yesterday from the East Devon Alliance blog:


Friday 6th June
Oral evidence began yesterday.  The summary is HERE.
An interesting submission is from the District Councils Network HERE which gives a flavour of the difficulties local authorities are finding themselves in.  The same applies to town and parish councils with the submission of the National Association of Local Councils HERE.
What is saddening is that DCN and NALC seem to have a much better grasp of the situation than EDDC.
Parliamentary review of National Planning Policy Framework | East Devon Alliance

Many councils are struggling with the system:
Nearly half of local authorities unable to demonstrate housing land supply

And many are complaining in their submissions to the Committee that they are being forced to accept 'ad-hoc' development:

Councils warn over impact of NPPF

Local authorities have warned that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is undermining confidence in the planning system because it is forcing councils to approve ad-hoc planning applications, leading to uncoordinated infrastructure provision.

Responding to the inquiry, the leaders of Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hills District Council, said that "one of the key matters for us is the failure of the NPPF to give any significant weight to the plan at the submission stage. In our view, the balance has swung against local communities who may have to accept development where the emerging plan does not propose it," they said. "These communities and the elected representatives invariably regard the current situation as effectively giving them no voice."

Yesterday the Communities and Local Government Select Committee published responses to its inquiry into the operation of the NPPF in its first two years. The committee's inquiry is focusing on housing, town centre retail and energy infrastructure.

Leeds City Council said that it is "fundamentally concerned" that, rather than working to support a plan-led system and the delivery of sustainable development, "the operation of the NPPF in this respect is resulting in entirely the reverse outcome". The city council's response said that it is concerned that the "unique character and distinctiveness of the district is being eroded by the short-term consequences and application of the need to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply above everything else, despite local circumstance and the evidence base".

In its response to the inquiry, the London Borough of Islington said that development viability has become increasingly important in the planning process since the introduction of the NPPF in April 2012 and there is a "danger of the plan-led system being undermined by viability arguments. The council is concerned that the plan-led system is being undermined by developers' use of viability arguments to avoid meeting policy requirements such as the provision of affordable housing and providing infrastructure contributions," its response said.

But in its evidence to the inquiry, the Department for Communities and Local Government said that the NPPF has "sent a strong signal that planning should be a positive activity that simultaneously promotes economic, social and environmental objectives". The DCLG's evidence said that there is "emerging evidence" that the NPPF is "starting to have a positive impact on plan-making, decision-taking and community engagement".

However, it added: "It is too early and comprehensive evidence is not yet available to make a thorough assessment of its full impact over time."

Councils warn over impact of NPPF | Planning Resource

Meanwhile, there is concern across communities about the impact of the NPPF:
LETTER: Voicing growing alarm of public - West Sussex County Times


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