Consultation on reforms to national planning policy
Letter published by the West Sussex County Times, 12 January 2023
‘Open consultation Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: reforms to national planning policy’
The Government’s open consultation on changes to the planning system, which will close 2 March at 11.45pm, was launched on 22 December with zero publicity, thereby coinciding with and hidden from view by Christmas and New Year festivities.
Set out in the consultation prospectus are “specific changes” that the Government is proposing “to immediately make to the Framework” (NPPF). To see beyond ministerial rhetoric these changes need to be considered in detail.
The timing of the launch and the lack of publicity is unconscionable and irresponsible because communities need to be aware of the ‘proposed changes’, and make their views known by taking part in the consultation.
The consultation prospectus reveals that contrary to expectations raised by Mr Gove’s Ministerial Statement, 6 December, it will NOT “be up to local authorities working with their communities, to determine how many homes can actually be built, taking into account what should be protected in each area”.
This expectation will not be met because the consultation document states that except where there are “exceptional circumstances that can be justified, local authorities will be expected to continue to use local housing need, assessed through the Standard Method, to inform the preparation of their plans”.
Retention of the Standard Method is cause for particular concern because its usage has resulted in the imposition across Sussex of huge and unsustainable housing targets without regard to the consequences for communities, the environment and the character of an area.
But note, however, that the consultation “would welcome views on the sort of demographic and geographic factors which could be used to demonstrate these exceptional circumstances”.
To access the consultation: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/levelling-up-and-regeneration-bill-reforms-to-national-planning-policy
Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex