More than half of English councils have failed to draw up local plans in time for the NPPF’s introduction later this month
Rural conservation pressure group CPRE claimed a widespread failure to implement local plan’s has left 175 local authorities vulnerable to ‘damaging development’.
Councils were given twelve months to adopt the policies in time for the NPPF’s 27 March introduction deadline.
Without a local plan, planning in the area will be determined in line with the NPPF’s much-heralded ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
CPRE Policy and Campaigns director Neil Sinden told The Daily Telegraph the debacle could lead to ‘sporadic and poorly planned development’ with further delays to the planning system.
Warning a surge of applications would go to appeal, he called on the government to extend the transition period by a further 12 or 18 months.
Planning Inspectorate data analysed by CPRE shows 161 of England’s 336 councils have yet to adopt local plans.
Among councils yet to adopt, 77 have published or submitted plans and 98 have yet to publish the document.
Former architecture minister John Penrose said: ‘The CPRE’s figures show we’ve got to get with educating local authorities about what they’re allowed to do, and push them to get cracking.
‘Many of our most beautiful town centres and High Streets need investment so they can keep their local character while still being vibrant, successful commercial and community centres too. And at the same time, many local people would love to afford their own home, but there just aren’t enough places to go round.
‘The answer isn’t to build all over Britain’s beautiful green fields: instead we should build ‘up, not out’. But we can’t do it without those local plans, so the Minister needs to deliver on his promise to give Councils the help and guidance they need to get this done in time. The clock is ticking.’
Planning minister Nick Boles played down the claims: ‘The CPRE’s figures are misleading. Seven out of ten local councils now have published local plans compared to two out of ten previously, and there is good progress across the remainder.
He added: ‘Up to date local plans provide certainty to both local residents and local firms, and we have offered councils a range of practical assistance to help them get up to speed.
‘There are strong protections in place for the green belt, open countryside and areas of outstanding natural beauty when considering planning applications against the planning framework as a whole.’
The British Property Federation argued the figures showed the NPPF was ‘spurring’ councils into action. The BPF claimed extending the transition period would ‘slow down the implementation of the government’s planning reforms, and hold back the delivery of much needed development.’
Liz Peace, BPF chief executive, said: ‘We’ve always said the key to the success of the NPPF was local authorities producing a Local Plan, and we’re pleased to see many have risen to the challenge, and hope the remainder will follow suit quickly. They have had seven years to put a Local Plan in place, and frankly should now just get on with it.
‘It’s clear we need development to meet the housing and commercial needs of the country, and quality plans need to be produced that will allow the development community and local authorities then work together to deliver it.
‘Even so, fears that the lack of a plan will lead to the untrammeled destruction of the countryside are overblown. Even where there is no Local Plan, development must still conform to the NPPF, which clearly sets out that development must be well located, well designed and sustainable.’