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Sajid backs expert group’s local plan reforms as new Bill makes waves

Published: Thursday, 13th October 2016

During the commons debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, Sajid Javid tells MPs that he supports recommendations on the reform of local plans…

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs this week that he supported the main thrust of the expert group’s recommendations on the reform of local plans.

His comments came during the first Commons debate on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill which received its Second reading on Monday, unopposed. Javid and planning minister Gavin Barwell also made it clear that the administration would tackle the vexed issue of land banking by developers.

Javid told MPs; “We need more co-operation and joint planning. The requirement to have a [local] plan should not be in doubt, and the process for putting a plan in place needs to be streamlined. As the expert group set out, most of those changes can and should be made through national policy and guidance, rather than through primary legislation. Should primary legislation be required, I look to use this Bill as the vehicle for it.”

Javid also highlighted that land banking was an issue; “on which we will be taking further action.”

Ministerial colleague Barwell commented: “As a government, we want to listen to developers and to address evidenced concerns about things that are slowing up development, be it pre-commencement conditions, the time it takes to agree section 106 agreements or concerns about utilities.

“However, if we do all those things, I think we have a right to turn to the development industry and ask what it is going to do to raise its game in terms of the speed with which it builds out.”

Opposition MPs used the debate to flag up concern over planning department resourcing and the legislation’s absence of measures on infrastructure and how to deliver garden cities and new towns.

Labour expects that the majority of the Bill’s scrutiny in committee will be taken up with arguments about proposed changes to the pre-commencement planning conditions regime.

During this week’s debate Javid confirmed that privatisation of the Land Registry had been kicked into the long grass. “The decision on privatisation will be for the government to make in the future; it will not form part of this Bill, nor will it be introduced into the Bill in any shape or form at a later date”.

Read the Hansard

Roger Milne