Housing: Construction

Department for Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 29th November 2017.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Conservative, Sevenoaks

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department takes to balance protection of the countryside with putting community interests at the centre of Government house-building policy.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

The Government’s objectives for planning are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework includes rigorous protection for designated land such as Green Belt and requires planning policies to enhance biodiversity at a landscape scale. It asks local authorities, in balancing all the relevant issues, to recognise the character and beauty of the countryside, to encourage re-use of brownfield land if not of high environmental value, and to take account of the benefits of the best and most versatile farmland. The supporting Guidance also reminds local authorities that, in planning to meet local housing and other needs, they must have due regard to national policies - such as Green Belt policy - which indicate that development should be restricted and which may restrain the ability of an authority to meet its need. We intend to introduce a simpler and more transparent method for assessing the housing needs of each community next year, along with other reforms.

However, it will still be for local authorities in consultation with local people to plan their areas using the Local Plan, and then to decide planning applications in line with that Plan and all other relevant factors. It is for local residents to make their hopes, concerns and evidence known to the local authority and (if appropriate) the planning inspector examining a revised Plan or determining an appeal.

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