Perhaps the previously incompetent DCLG media operation has finally learned how to spin the Daily Telegraph, with Zahawis help, especially now they have lost their excellent editor.
Developers are to be given cash incentives to encourage them to build more homes in towns and cities instead of the countryside.
Developers of brownfield sites will no longer have to pay tens of thousands of pounds of fees under the Community Infrastructure Levy, under changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Companies which agree to build new homes on brownfield land will also not have to have to provide so many council homes in new housing schemes.
The changes come amid concerns that the NPPF has been used by builders to develop greenfield sites and ignore brownfield areas in urban communities because they are more profitable.
The reforms are being published today in new “planning practice guidance”. which has been cut down from 7,000 pages to as few as 1,000.
Requirements described as “politically painful” forcing councils to give full details of where new homes will be built over 15 years will also be relaxed.
Nick Boles, the planning minister, will set out the details in the House of Commons on Thursday. He said the changes showed the Government was acting in areas where the NPPF was not working as it should.
He told The Telegraph: “The NPPF has been in force for two years. We are making additions to planning guidance in some area where it is not working exactly as we intended.
“We want to use every inch of previously developed land to meet the housing need.”
The reforms were welcomed by MPs and campaigners who have been critical of the NPPF in recent months.
Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, said: “We welcome it. There are huge swathes of urban England aching for redevelopment.”
Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP and a member of the Number 10 policy unit, said the changes “show that the Government is listening and is determined to make localism work”.
He said: “It is great news that the planning minister has listened to the calls to clarify the NPPF and is amending planning guidance to close many of the loopholes being exploited by rapacious developers.
“The strengthened focus on greenbelt protection, clarifications around brownfield first and the new focus on ensuring infrastructure is viable and delivered in time to make a difference will be welcomed by groups across the country.”
Nick Herbert MP, a former Conservative Coalition minister, added: “These are welcome changes which show that Ministers have listened to local concerns about planning reforms.
“MPs have argued strongly about the problem of inadequate infrastructure to support development, and as recent flooding shows, these issues cannot be ignored.
“A focus on redeveloping brownfield sites, a more sensible approach on the ‘duty to co-operate’ between councils, and giving proper weight to emerging local plans so that they’re not undermined by speculative development should all help to achieve a better balance between providing housing and protecting the countryside.”
Neil Sinden, spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Any help that can unlock difficult to develop brownfield sites are very welcome. But we will be looking at the detail.”
So is this a return to brownfield first and changes to the NPPF?
No the NPPF has not changed and no return to BF first – rather the finalised guidance signals some changes in accompanying delivery – such as CIl and issues regarding viability – which presage FURTHER neoliberalisation and degulation – such as letting developers of the hoook for CIL and affordable housing in some cases on BF sites.
No time to do a detailed asessment of the ‘GOLD’ (as opposed to ‘beta’ guidance however a first glance – for exampleon the duty to cooperate – suggests this is typical DCLG spin -simply making offical the current mainstream interpretation of the legal duty by PINS. Similarly again the 10-15 year housing numbers issue,just clarifying the position where the NPPF was a littrle vague and where teh previous PPG3 was very clear. The guidance on infrastructure though is helpful and again a return to the pre NPPF position. Ill post seperately on this if I get 5 mins.