Thank you to those constituents that contacted me about National Development Management Policies.
I recognise that many people across Mid Sussex feel strongly about reforms to our planning system and rightly so. Planning is at the heart of our communities, from the homes we live in to the schools our children go to.
As you will be aware, I support the Government’s proposal to introduce a suite of National Development Management Policies which would set out, nationally, a range of planning considerations that apply regularly in decision making across England or significant parts of it.
I believe this would help local authorities produce slimmer local plans more quickly that are more genuinely locally focused and reduce time-consuming duplication of policies that apply universally. There can be no doubt about the benefits of putting important national policies, such as protections for the Green Belt and general policies for conserving heritage assets, on a statutory footing and I am sure these measures will be welcomed.
With that being said, I completely agree that these reforms should be introduced with care and in a way which takes into account the views of communities across the country. As such, I am assured that the Government will hold a full public consultation on the draft policies, building on the initial views which have already been sought via consultation on the principles for producing National Development Management Policies.
It is worth noting that the existing National Planning Policy Framework - which sets out planning guidance for local authorities in England - already contains development management policies of this type. Policies in the framework can be significant ‘material considerations’ when assessing planning applications, meaning that they should be taken into account.
Ministers have been clear that National Development Management Policies would not impinge on local policies for shaping development, nor direct what land should be allocated for particular uses during the plan-making process. These will remain matters for locally produced plans. Like many of you, I am a firm supporter of the vital role that local plans play in the planning system and the importance of putting local voices at the heart of development. Ultimately, I see these reforms as an important way of speeding up the process of creating a local plan and ensuring that even more communities can benefit from the protections of having a local plan in place.
I hope that, with this response, I have outlined why I am assured that the introduction of National Development Management Policies is an important step in creating a genuinely plan-led system for development, which will support clearer decision making. Nonetheless, I will convey constituents’ concerns to my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities when I meet with them next.