Planning rules redrawn to ease development

THE PLANNING system yesterday received its biggest shake-up in over fifty years as the government reduced more than 1,300 pages of regulations across 44 documents into a single 50 page set of guidelines, with the aim of cutting red tape and encouraging new development.

Planning minister Greg Clark hopes that the new guidelines – which come into effect immediately – will boost the economy and alleviate the housing crisis by introducing a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

“These reforms will help build the homes the next generation needs, it will let businesses expand and create jobs, and it will conserve what we hold dear in our matchless countryside and the fabric of our history,” he said.

Under the new national planning policy framework, authorities will retain the final say on planning applications but the focus will shift to a new “local plan”.

Every local authority will be required to consult with local residents and produce a plan that sets out where development is acceptable.

The framework was revised after the first draft, released last July, attracted criticism from conservation groups including the National Trust and backbench MPs.

A number of changes were made, including a recognition that the “intrinsic value of the countryside” should be recognised and protected as a matter of principle.

There is also return to the requirement that councils must prioritise the redevelopment of brownfield sites before using greenbelt land, and building out-of-town shopping centres is now against government policy.

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, welcomed the policy: “Future generations will be thankful that the government has held its nerve on this. Having a presumption in favour of sustainable development gets the balance right between supporting jobs and growth, and serving the interests of the environment and society.

“For too long, our planning regime acted as a drag on growth, and this framework lets people decide the future for themselves,” he said.