National Planning Policy Framework - Select Committee Report Published
29 Dec 11
Government Select Committee Report, published just before Christmas, recommends a default answer of 'yes' to development should be removed from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF). This recommendation, amongst others, was swiftly followed by a call for further consultation on the NPPF which is scheduled to be introduced in April 2012.
The phrase 'significantly and demonstrably' must also be removed from the presumption that all planning applications should be approved unless the adverse effects ‘significantly and demonstrably’ outweigh the benefits, say the MPs because it adds a further barrier to the achievement of truly sustainable development.
The NPPF, possibly the most controversial piece of intended legislation in a generation, sets out new planning policy guidance that should bring forward economic growth and sustainable development however, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce is among several business organisations that have expressed clearly that there needs to be further consultation. The Select Committee's Report is seen as an indication that this request may well come to pass.
Commenting on the publication of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report into the National Planning Policy Framework, Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“Businesses have long called for greater speed, clarity and certainty in the planning system. The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) set forward a planning regime that balanced economic growth with environmental concerns. Suggestions by the committee that the draft needs significantly altering, including the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, risk the ability of businesses up and down the country to grow, and help our economy to recover.
“The debate on planning reform has to be based on common sense, not the predictable responses of a few opponents. The current system has developed into an overly complex, costly, uncertain and time-consuming process that discourages investment. The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has failed to recognise the extent to which the planning system is a constraint on economic growth. We all want to protect areas of the countryside, but business's experience of planning on even the most modest developments shows that the system, and its bureaucracy, is a serious brake on economic growth, prosperity and jobs.
“Further consultation will just result in greater delays when reform is needed now. The Government has made commitments to both simplifying the planning system, and helping businesses to grow. The two go hand in hand, and we urge ministers to hold fast on both by delivering a planning system that helps not hinders business growth.”
Ian Welland, Head of Area Development for Hampshire Chamber of Commerce supported Adam Marshall's comments by saying, "Our Chamber members key issues continue to be concerns regarding the abandonment of housing targets and abolition of the guidance that supported the targets the housing distribution; the unfortunate introduction of decentralisation and publication of the Localism Bill (now an Act) ahead of the new NPPF; and the replacement of all current guidance with a single framework document.
"Chamber members appear to remain in unison regarding the need to speed up the planning process particularly at local levels where developers’ dialogue often stalled with planning departments thus resulting in costly commercial and economic loss.
Given the complexity of the intended planning reforms, our Chamber stands by the recommendation for the Government to consider a second round of consultation rather than rush through publication of the new NPPF this coming April."
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