The Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP has issued a written Ministerial Statement which is in précis below outlining new planning guidance for local authorities and appearing, at least in part, to address some of the common issues with the current framework:

The overall focus of the guidance is to cut red tape adding to the steps taken through the NPPF which reduced 1,000 pages to less than 50. The review of planning red tape was announced in 2012 and consulted on in August 2013. The guidance is now the final presentation of that review and will again focus on detail by consolidating what was 7,000 pages of ‘complex and often repetitive’ documents.

Key aspects of the new guidance are as follows:

  • Issuing robust guidance on flood risk, making it crystal clear that councils need to consider the strict tests set out in national policy;
  • re-affirming green Belt protection, noting that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh harm to the green Belt;
  • making clear that local plans can pass the test of soundness where authorities have not been able to identify land for growth in years 11 to 15;
  • making clear that windfalls can be counted over the whole local plan period;
  • explaining how student housing, housing for older people and the re-use of empty homes can be included when assessing housing need.
  • ensuring that infrastructure is provided to support new development, and noting how infrastructure constraints should be considered when assessing suitability of sites;
  • stressing the importance of bringing brownfield land into use and making clear that authorities do not have to allocate sites on the basis of providing the maximum possible return for landowners and developers;
  • noting that councils should also be able to consider the delivery record (or lack of) of developers or landowners, including a history of unimplemented permissions;
  • on the 5 year supply of sites, confirming that assessments are not automatically outdated by new household projections and;

If you would like further information on the statement and some of the further background information that goes with it please click on the link below:

If you would like to see further information behind the statement please click on the link below:

I’ve not yet received the Council’s views or interpretations on this new guidance as to how it will affect us locally but I felt it was appropriate to let you know about it as soon as possible so you can look at this information in respect of any developments or potential developments that may take place in our areas.

It will be interesting  to see how the Council officers and the Planning Inspectorate choose to interpret this new guidance.