Inside Housing – another article on this not reading the relevant NPPF para
More than half the councils in England will be powerless to oppose unwanted development unless they sign off updated local plans within the next two months.
Data held by the government’s Planning Inspectorate and exclusively obtained by Inside Housing, reveals that 185 councils have not yet adopted an updated local plan, despite having to comply with the new planning regime by 1 April.
Of those, 104 have not updated their plans since 2010 and have not yet produced a plan which is publicly available.
Planning authorities were given a year’s grace period after the publication of the government’s controversial national planning policy framework in March 2012 to adjust current plans so that they are in ‘complete conformity’ with the new policy.
The updated local plans must be drawn up by 342 authorities in England to show where development should take place to cope with predicted increases in population.
The NPPF stipulates that authorities that do not have an up-to-date plan will be subject to a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’, which means the default answer to development is ‘yes’, unless the local plan specifically protects the site in question.
Plans must be published, consulted on, submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and approved before they can be adopted. The process typically takes around a year.
Richard Ford, partner at law firm Pinsent Mason, said: ‘It means local authorities will find it very difficult to refuse planning applications.
‘Until a local plan has been submitted, local planning authorities can expect planning inspectors to give their emerging strategy very little weight and with the transition period expiring they will be significantly more exposed to the presumption in favour of sustainable development rather than their preferred local plan.’
Malcolm Sharp, president of the Planning Officers Society, said a year’s transition period was not long enough to complete the local plan process. ‘Planning authorities are being asked to do local plans, support neighbourhoods, put the community infrastructure levy in place and negotiate infrastructure delivery – it’s a big ask on them to keep all the balls in the air.’
Leslie Caborn, deputy leader of Warwick Council, which has not yet consulted on a new plan because drawing it up took several months, said developers are trying to take advantage of the regime. ‘Some [planning] applications are trying to pre-empt the plan, some aren’t,’ she said.
‘We’re having a formal consultation on our local plan in June, and the planning committee and officers are doing a good job of defending Warwick until then by arguing the case for what the council and local people want.’