The Government has published its response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (‘NPPF’).

In April 2014, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee (‘Select Committee’) launched an inquiry into the operation of the NPPF. It published its report in December 2014. The Select Committee made 43 recommendations covering all aspects of the NPPF, however its overall conclusion was that it is too early to assess the full impact of the NPPF and a complete overhaul is not required at this stage. Of the 43 recommendations, 9 related to amendments to the NPPF, the remainder to planning guidance, consultation and wider recommendations.

The Government has rejected many of the recommendations made, primarily stating that the recommendation is already addressed in existing policy or already being considered. Some of the key recommendations considered were:

  • The definition of “sustainable development”, which has exercised both planners and developers since the NPPF was published. The Select Committee recommended the deletion of the statement that the policies in paragraphs 18 to 219 of the NPPF should, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of the practical meaning of sustainable development and that the definition on page 2 of the NPPF should stand alone. This recommendation was rejected by the Government, which concluded that the way it is currently defined is clear and robust.
  • The Government rejected the Select Committee’s recommendation that the NPPF should include a section setting out the expected responsibilities of developers during the planning process on the basis that the core planning principles in the NPPF would already apply.
  • The Government rejected the Select Committee’s recommendation that paragraph 89 of the NPPF be amended to make clear that development on land allocated in an adopted neighbourhood plan and which has the approval of the local planning authority would not constitute inappropriate development in the green belt.

In conclusion, we should not expect to see substantive changes to the NPPF or planning policy guidance as a result of the Select Committee inquiry.