Was determined NOT to blog this week as depsperately busy on major projects – however this letter from Nick Boles is plum – putting a grinding halt to Green Belt reviews (at least until the next election) and making it clear what the vague Golkd Guidance on this mean (Green Belt – for the first time in its long history) is to be considered an absolute enviromental (not policy) constraint.
First the letter
Sir Michael Pitt
Temple Quay House
Dear Sir Michael Pitt,
Inspectors’ Reports on Local Plans
I was very troubled by the media coverage of the recent Inspector’s report on the examination into the Reigate and Banstead Local Plan. On reading the report, I was disturbed by the Inspector’s use of language, which invited misinterpretation of government policy and misunderstanding about the local authority’s role in drawing up all of the policies in the draft plan. I am writing to restate very clearly the Government’s view of Green Belt policy and Local Plan examinations.
[Comment : why now there have been dozens of similar use of language for months – is this the first such report Noles has read. Is he so outy opf touch? The only potentila explantion is that they now see political capital on labours ‘right to expand’ and / or following two Westminster Hall debates the goverbnment, until now firmly relaxed about Green Belty reviews and is doing a screeching U turn to avoid the issue flaring up until the next election.0
Fundamental to the National Planning Policy Framework and to this Government’s planning reforms is the idea that local authorities, and the communities who elect them, are in charge of planning for their own areas.
[Comment: Proving they meet National policy of course includfing Green Belt needing to be reviewed and meeting housing need ‘in full’ including overspill need].
That is why we abolished the top down regional strategies, why we have emphasised the primacy of the Local Plan and why we gave communities the powers to create neighbourhood plans.
Alongside these reforms we were always very clear that we would maintain key protections for the countryside and, in particular, for the Green Belt. The National Planning Policy Framework met this commitment in full. The Framework makes clear that a Green Belt boundary may be altered only in exceptional circumstances and reiterates the importance and permanence of the Green Belt. The special role of Green Belt is also recognised in the framing of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which sets out that authorities should meet objectively assessed needs unless specific policies in the Framework indicate development should be restricted.
[Comment this si wroimng in law and Boles knows it – 30 years of case law spell out teh difference between the DC test ‘very special’ and teh plan test ‘exceptioonal’ inclduing several cases that have held that a plan review ‘alone’ meets the exceptional test. teh NPPF wording, not changing the copre presumptions tests (onl;y the definitions of approprioate uses etc.) Has not changed one comma really (apart from the clumsy issue of outdoor sport /cemeraries etc.- see the Gedling case today.]
Crucially, Green Belt is identified as one such policy.
It has always been the case that a local authority could adjust a Green Belt boundary through a review of the Local Plan.It must however always be transparently clear that it is the local authority itself which has chosen that path – and it is important that this is reflected in the drafting of Inspectors’ reports.
[Comment – total horseshite- what complete hypocracy after letting so many green belt reviews through in the alst two tears. Where does it say in teh NPPF that Green Belt reviews must be solely the choice of a single LPA? where – show me the line – Show me the paragraph. How is this new policy – rewriting and adding to the NPPF on the fly, compatible with both teh DTC and the para of teh NPPF about meeting housing need in full, reviewing Green Belt, choosing the ‘best possible plan…reasonable alternatives’ minisming travel and maininging green belt purposes, the bestt landsccapes etc. How Where? ]
The Secretary of State will consider exercising his statutory powers of intervention in Local Plans before they are adopted where a planning inspector has recommended a Green Belt review that is not supported by the local planning authority. I would be grateful if you could circulate a copy of this letter to all Inspectors and ensure that they understand the need to choose their words carefully and reflect government policy very clearly in all future reports. I am also placing a copy of this letter in the public domain.
Nick Boles MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning)
[Comment – so the Minister is a coward – getting inspectors to follow national policy and critically examine Green Belt – so Osborne got his way without nationally having to intervene directly to dedesignate Green Belt – as Boy George wanted. Now having seen the predicable consequences of a non transparent policy – though in some regards a necessary one as in many areas Green Belts were meant for a structure plan 20-30 years horizon and plans are now well well out of date with big backlogs and persistent need. ]
Department for Communities and Local
London SW1E 5DU
Tel: 0303 444 3459
Fax: 020 7821 0635
3 March 2014
So what happens now. Chaos. Areas resulctantly carrying out reviews like Reigate, York etc. will stop, withdraw plans (sign haven’t we waited 30 years already). As the ‘vopuntarist’ Green Belt policy is new policy not subject to public consultation and a interpretation that is wendesbury unreasonable of teh NPPF there will be JRS galore, more masaratis in Lincolns Inn/ For those authorities that have inspectors reports and are about to adopt all they cal do now is withdraw the plan, and the SoS no longer has to approve it. This will in itself lead to JRS. As for inspectors,, dont expect them to blindly and mechanically interpret teh NPPF in future, they now have a new public enemy number one. Its all about denainability. Like the MI6 officer tasked to assassinate someone abroad, of course if you get cuaght the Prime Minster who ordered the hot will criticise you publicly.