As I have noted before the Local Government Association broadly welcomes the streamlining of the planning process outlined by the Government including the "presumption in favour of sustainable development."
But the LGA have also backed the some of the criticisms from the Communities and Local Government that councils should be clear over when they can reject a planning application they regard as unsuitable.
Cllr David Parsons, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board said:
“The CLG Select Committee report strongly endorses many of the views of the Local Government Association regarding the Government’s planning changes, which is positive.
“Allowing councils to balance the economic, social and environment benefits from new developments is something the LGA has long called for. They have come down strongly in favour of ensuring that this is a reality.
“The LGA also been clear that local people should be able to decide what developments they wish for through their Local Plans. The report raised concerns that the proposed ‘presumption in favour of
sustainable development’ may undermine the importance of these. We support calls for clarity to ensure that Local Plans continue to determine what developments occur in neighbourhoods.
“It is promising that the report calls on the Government to establish a timetable for implementing Local Plans. By the day more and more councils are putting these together but some delays were inevitable due to the bureaucratic approval process of the Planning Inspectorate. The LGA agrees that the Inspectorate should be given the resources they need to process the Local Plans to avoid any future delays.”
My understanding of the changes is that councils will have more incentive to back development but more power to refuse – as the Stalinist targets are lifted – should they wish to. That should mean not only more homes but ones that are more attractive and better located. More development and better development. By all means let's make that as clear as possible.
The Committee concluded that "we can report that most witnesses to our inquiry were broadly content with the concept and approach of the NPPF in simplifying planning guidance and did not want a wholesale rewrite." It considered that "it is reasonable and practical for the NPPF to have as an overarching principle a presumption in favour of sustainable development." Also that "if the final NPPF contains an agreed definition of sustainable development which is balanced and comprehensive, then the 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' becomes a very constructive part of the Government's wider environmental, social and economic agendas."
Decentralisation Miniister Greg Clark said:
"I warmly welcome the DCLG select committee's constructive recommendations to the draft Framework consultation. I invited the Committee to make specific suggestions to the draft framework and am grateful for the practical and measured way they have approached the exercise.
"The Government will consider carefully each of the suggestions that have been made, along with all responses to the consultation.
"We are determined that the National Planning Policy Framework will put power into the hands of local people, through a simpler, clearer system, which safeguards our natural and historic environment while allowing the jobs and homes to be created that our country needs."