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Minister urged to clarify government intentions over local plans

Published: Thursday, 28th July 2016

MPs call on the planning minister to set out how the new administration proposes to reform the legislative and local plan making process…

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has put the new planning minister Gavin Barwell on the spot over the new administration’s legislative and local plan reform proposals.

Betts has written to Barwell asking if the yet to be introduced neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill will be published in draft form initially and whether the department plans to use the legislation to bring in changes to the local plan regime in line with the recommendations of the expert group’s report.

In the letter Betts wanted to know if the new planning minister intends to follow his predecessors’ intention to intervene in the production of local plans where councils do not have them in place by March 2017.

He wrote; “If so, how many local authorities do you anticipate might need such intervention, and what form might it take?”

Betts reminded Barwell that local plan making was currently “complex and burdensome” for local authorities. “What measures will you put in place to simplify the process?”

He added: “In the longer term, if you do not accept or implement the expert group’s recommendation for a statutory duty to prepare and maintain local plans, how will you ensure that local authorities keep them up to date?”

Betts has specifically asked Barwell if the National Planning Policy Guidance will be amended with a standard methodology for objectively assessing housing need.

The minister was also quizzed about what measures are planned to ensure councils cooperate effectively when preparing local plans.

In a separate but related move Barwell has told Parliament that it will be the autumn before the government publishes the outcome of its consultation on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.

View the letter

View the written questions and answers

Roger Milne