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.