In 2012, the Coalition Government introduced the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance. These replaced all existing planning guidance – except on waste. These changes weakened the National Brownfield Strategy, promoted in 2003, which actively prioritised building on brownfield sites.
The government published its housing white paper in February, along with a consultation seeking views on amending the NPPF to allow local authorities to amend Green Belt boundaries in ‘exceptional circumstances.’ The government says that the results of the consultation will be published ‘as soon as possible in 2018.’
The Chancellor committed to protecting the Green Belt at the Autumn Budget, but I remain concerned that the government’s planning reforms have failed to do enough to promote brownfield development. Indeed, the government rejected an Opposition amendment to the Housing and Planning Act during its consideration in Parliament, which would have ensured automatic planning permission would be limited to housing on brownfield land.
The National Planning Policy Framework should include a clear brownfield first policy to ensure the planning system allows sustainable growth while protecting green spaces and the natural environment.