Central Government Power Grab

Thank you for contacting me about National Development Management Policies (NDMPs). I recognise that many people feel strongly about reforms to our planning system and understandably so, given it is at the heart of our communities, from the homes we live in to the schools our children go to.

The Government’s proposal to introduce a suite of NDMPs would set out nationally a range of planning considerations that apply regularly in decision making across England or significant parts of it. This would help local authorities produce slimmer local plans more quickly which are more genuinely locally focused and reduce time-consuming duplication of policies that apply universally. I believe 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.

With that being said, these reforms should be introduced with care and in a way which takes into account the views of communities across the country. I am advised 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 NDMPs. 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 NDMPs 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 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. It is for this reason that I felt compelled to lend my support to the Woodford Community Forum, which was successful in developing a local plan for the area.

These reforms are 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 am assured that the introduction of NDMPs is an important step in creating a genuinely plan-led system for development, which will support clearer decision making.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.