SEC responds to Government’s planning policy consultation

Thursday, 2 March, 2023

South East Councils (SEC) has responded to the Government’s consultation:

“Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: reforms to national planning policy”.

The consultation is being led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

It seeks views on the Government’s proposed approach to updating the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), their proposed approach to preparing National Development Management Policies (NDMPs), how policy to support levelling up might be developed, and how users currently access national planning policy.

SEC Chair Cllr Nicolas Heslop said:

“Planning is a critical element of local democracy to ensure councils support the delivery of communities in the eyes of local residents.

Councils need high quality, affordable, and appropriate homes and developments built in their areas.

This is clear from the latest South East 1,000 Regional Monitor, which found that a majority of all respondents support building new homes in their area (57%).

• All too often councils are framed as obstructors to housebuilding despite the inappropriateness of proposed development in their areas and the limited powers that councils actually have to incentivise what is needed most in their areas.

Planning is often a controversial subject. Nevertheless, this submission demonstrates that despite mixed viewpoints from a diverse region, there is an incredible amount of expertise from councillors of all parties, and groups, across the region to offer practical solutions to shared problems.

There is a need for greater clarity to ensure that areas of Green Belt, Areas of Natural Beauty, and National Parks are protected from excessive demands for overdevelopment.

• Blunt instruments like the standard methodology for housebuilding have, in the recent past, applied pressure to councils without fairly taking into account specific local circumstances.

Not every English region is the same. A broader strategic spatial vision from Government could go further in acknowledging that levelling up might look different in the South East than other regions.

• House prices, and the increasing cost of living, in the South East (and London) should be at the forefront of considerations when considering future development at the national level. There simply is no one-size fits all approach.

I believe this submission provides many helpful insights from local councils to aid central Government in its reforms of national planning policy to ensure that, together, we all best deliver for local people.”

Our full response to this consultation can be accessed here.