National Planning Policy Framework May 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) [and the related campaign by Campaign to Protect Rural England].

During the last Parliament, in 2012, the Coalition Government replaced all existing planning guidance - except on waste - with the publication of the NPPF and National Planning Practice Guidance. Unfortunately, these reforms weakened the previous Labour Government's brownfield-first policy which actively prioritised building on brownfield sites.

I am concerned the Government's planning reforms have failed to do enough to promote brownfield development and I appreciate there are widely held concerns about the Government's proposals to further amend policy to support the regeneration of previously developed brownfield sites in the Green Belt.

The Government has recently consulted on its proposals. While I await its response, I share your concerns about the Government's plans in relation to the Green Belt, and also about a number of provisions within the Housing and Planning Bill which will undermine the ability of local communities to have a proper say about what happens to their areas.

I believe it is vital to ensure the planning system allows sustainable growth while protecting green spaces and the natural environment and I also believe the NPPF should include a clear brownfield first policy.

As you may be aware, during the Report Stage of the Housing and Planning Bill in the House of Commons, the Opposition tabled an amendment which would ensure that automatic planning permission would be limited to housing on brownfield land. Unfortunately, the Government rejected this amendment. At report stage in the House of Lords, an opposition backed amendment to give neighbourhoods a right of appeal on planning issues in their area was added to the Bill. Unfortunately the Government rejected this amendment in the House of Commons on 3 May 2016.

I believe that following its failure to build new homes, the Government has decided it now wants to deliver housing numbers at any cost. I also believe the Government's Housing and Planning Bill is a badly constructed Bill that fails to get to grips with the crisis of home ownership, especially for young people and families on ordinary incomes, and in many areas will make things much worse.

I hope the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised by groups such as Campaign to Protect Rural England about development on the Green Belt.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.