Planning policy

As the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill goes through Parliament, CPRE is warning that the  National Development Management Policies it includes are a ‘power grab’ by central government without any safeguards for local voices. Commenting on the Lords Committee stage debate of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Tom Fyans says:

‘The government has yet again ignored heartfelt concerns, expressed by Peers from across the political spectrum, that local democracy will be trashed by planning reforms making their way through Parliament.

‘National Development Management Policies are a cleverly disguised power grab by central government. The secretary of state would be granted the extraordinary right to override any local plan, without the legal safeguards of consultation or parliamentary scrutiny. This is a full-on attack on local democracy. These NDMPs will mean government Ministers have more say over what happens on a person’s street than their locally elected councillors. This is the polar opposite of what had been promised in the Levelling Up Bill. Local plans should be the chief factor in deciding planning applications because they give local people and our communities more say on local housing targets, as well as encouraging brownfield development and controlling short-term lets.

‘CPRE has been pushing for much-needed amendments to the Bill to avoid this potentially disastrous outcome. But yet again, ministers were ducking their responsibility to ensure local communities have a strong voice in the planning system, despite previous assurances that the undemocratic effect was unintentional.

On recent changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Tom Fyans continues:

‘It seems the government has finally got the message that solving the housing crisis hinges on meeting local housing need, rather than arbitrary top-down targets. If confirmed, this very sensible rethink is encouraging news for those at the sharp end of the housing crisis, as well as the countryside. The priority now must be to focus on quality social housing in the right place. Demand for social housing is growing nearly six times faster than the rate of supply in rural areas and the backlog of low-income families needing accommodation is huge.

‘Councils must retain a strong voice in the planning process and need more resources if they are to deliver genuinely affordable housing.

‘A new government review on making it much easier to build on brownfield land is also really welcome. Currently we’re not making enough use of our previously developed land and charging higher levies on greenfield sites, as well as a genuine ‘brownfield first’ approach in planning policy, are some of the ways we can unlock its potential.’