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CLG Committee Publish Report on NPPF

In a recent report, the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has said that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should be doing more to protect against unsustainable development and ensure that unwanted housing projects are not built.

The CLG Committee has found a number of issues with the NPPF, including that developers are using loopholes to launch ‘speculative’ planning applications leading to housing developments in areas that are unwanted by local communities.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “The NPPF has brought welcome simplification to the planning system but the Government must strengthen the planning framework to tackle emerging concerns about inappropriate and unsustainable development. The same weight needs to be given to environmental and social factors as to the economic dimension to ensure the planning system delivers the sustainable development promised by the NPPF.”

Although welcoming the NPPF’s efforts to simplify planning, the CLG Committee is concerned that communities are at risk of unsustainable development due to planning permission being granted for substantial housing on the edges of towns and villages as a result of ‘speculative’ applications. This is a serious problem when a Local Plan or a 5-year plan is not in place.

Clive Betts MP, said: “We must also close the loophole that allows developers to challenge the inclusion of sites within a council’s five year supply on the grounds of viability. We heard that developers were claiming sites were unviable in order to obtain planning permission on other, more lucrative sites against the wishes of the council and community.

“In doing so, they are undermining and delaying the local planning process. Requiring all sites with planning permission to be counted towards an authority’s five year supply will help put a stop to this behaviour and give communities greater protection.”

They also agreed with the Government that more homes should be built on brownfield land, but sees the lack of available of resources as an issue. The CLG Committee is calling on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to establish a remediation fund to facilitate an increase in development on brownfield land.

The NPPF was meant to work in conjunction with Local Plans, however only 41% have taken these up. The CLG Committee is calling for the Government to make it a statutory requirement for councils to adopt Local Plans.

Commenting on this latest move, agb Environmental Managing Director, Alex Brearley, said: “The NPPF has been criticised by some as trying to make technical guidance too ‘simplistic’. However, what it did was rely on the vast array of technical guidance already published rather than trying to create new standards. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, the technical aspects, such as land condition, ecology and flood risk, have been covered with few loopholes.

“The concept presented by the CLG Committee of a brownfield remediation fund is an interesting one. In reality, it is likely to support projects that wouldn’t otherwise make commercial sense, of which there are many throughout England. Would this then replace the recently scrapped Part 2A funding for Local Authorities to investigate and remediate significantly contaminated sites?”

For more information on the variety of technical services offered by agb Environmental to support planning, contact Alex Brearley on 01638 663226 or email alex@agbenvironmental.co.uk.

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