Amendment 198

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - Committee (8th Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 27 March 2023.

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Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative 9:45, 27 March 2023

My Lords, I will contribute to this group in relation to the two amendments in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham. In existing legislation, Section 19(1B) and (1C) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 states that:

“Each local planning authority must identify the strategic priorities for the development and use of land in the authority’s area… Policies to address those priorities must be set out in the local planning authority’s development plan documents (taken as a whole).”

Therefore, the legislation has it that strategic priorities must be set out and policies must be set out to meet them.

Paragraph 21 of the National Planning Policy Framework in the consultation document recently issued says that:

“Plans should make explicit which policies are strategic policies. These should be limited to those necessary to address the strategic priorities of the area”.

Paragraph 17 states that the development plan

“must include strategic policies to address each local planning authority’s priorities for the development and use of land in its area.”

Therefore, the legislation is carried through into the National Planning Policy Framework. Also, the NPPF is clear that there is an important distinction to be made between strategic and non-strategic policies. I will not dwell on those now, as it is not relevant for this purpose. Suffice to say that “strategic” in front of policies seems important.

However, the Government have decided to omit “strategic”, to omit any reference to strategic priorities or a requirement that the local plan in a plan-making process should identify those priorities and show how policies meet them. I cannot for the life of me understand why. I admit that these are probing amendments to find out why. I do not think that, as a proposition, the structure of the NPPF in paragraphs 17 and 21 should be left stranded, with the relevant legislative provisions in Section 19 of the 2004 Act being omitted and not being substituted with anything in the current legislation that gives rise to that part of the NPPF.

The Government may say, “Well, it’s guidance and that’s fine—that’s what we’re saying”. Until now it has been perfectly understood that there is a legislative structure, and that the guidance follows it. I am not sure that we should arrive at a position where there is guidance with no legislative structure underpinning it. I cannot see any mischief in putting the strategic priorities and strategic policies back in. I see no mischief in putting “strategic” in front of “policies”. It avoids any lack of clarity about what kind of policies we are talking about. I cannot see why the Bill should not be amended to put it in line with where the current situation is and where the NPPF intends to go.