I am grateful to have been sent a copy of this letter yesterday. When I checked CLG's website yesterday afternoon it was not to be found - but today it has been posted.
This is a very important piece of correspondence. It follows the publication of the Inspector's report, in January 2014, following his examination of the Reigate and Banstead core strategy. The Inspector found that it should be recognised that
some loss of Green Belt land to housing development will be necessary, in certain sustainable locations, to meet as far as is practicable the needs of the borough;
In what is now the run up to the election next year the letter may not be too surprising, but I found it so when I re-read the Inspector's report. He had carefully addressed NPPF (which does allow for green belt boundary alteration in exceptional circumstances) and given the focus on sustainable development, he found sufficient support in paragraphs 83 - 85 of NPPF plus the urgent need to boost housing supply to justify his recommendations.
There is also the duty under s.39 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act to take into account. This places local planning authorities under a statutory duty, when bringing forward their local plans, to "exercise the function with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development". There will be many cases where promoters of green belt allocations will prey this in aid - but Mr Boles' letter will be the counter argument now made by local authorities keen to retain their green belts as they now are. The argument remains as it was - but the odds are now stacked in favour of those local authorities.
We all recall the Cala Homes litigation which followed a previous "important piece of correspondence" from CLG - I wonder whether we will see the like this time.