Viewpoint - 02/02/2023

Clock is ticking for consensus on planning policy

Head of Planning Consultancy (London & South), Mary-Jane O'Neill discusses the lack of consensus and clarity within government regarding the proposed revisions to planning policy.

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Although criticism of the government’s approach to housing is nothing new, recent news that four former housing ministers have spoken out against current policy should sound clear alarm bells for anyone involved in the development arena. 

With consultation on proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) due to end at the beginning of March, there is a worrying lack of consensus and clarity within government. And taking into account the forthcoming local elections and the prospect of a general election looming, there is precious little time to effect any change.

For every Conservative member continuing to advocate for brownfield-led policy, there is a dissenting voice championing an alternative approach. This continuing lack of consensus lays bare both the complexity of the task and the divergent views of constituents throughout the country. It has also contributed to a near moratorium on new development in some areas.

We can only hope the revised NPPF recognises the importance of strategic planning and delivers more robust guidance that offers clarity both to developers and local authorities.

Prolonging any ambiguity will result in more local plans being shelved or withdrawn completely, with disastrous consequences for housing delivery and, in turn, the economy.


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