Ministers set to announce postponement of revised planning guidance in the next fortnight

The government is delaying publication of its revised planning guidance for housing.

Earlier this year, housing minister Yvette Cooper told parliament that the final version would be out during the summer. However, ministers are to make a statement over the next fortnight, before the Commons breaks up for the summer, saying PPS3 will not be issued until the autumn.

Colin Byrne, a senior official at the Department for Communities and Local Government, told a meeting of the National Planning Forum that civil servants had been swamped by more than 3000 responses to the draft version of PPS3, which was published last November. Draft PPS3 outlined how the government planned to bring in many of Treasury economist Kate Barker’s recommendations for speeding up the supply of land.

PPG3 still applies to new schemes, such as Springhead in Ebbsfleet, Kent
PPG3 still applies to new schemes, such as Springhead in Ebbsfleet, Kent

Byrne, who is director of planning at the DCLG, said there were three key areas of concern. These were the government’s proposals to scrap the brownfield sites first policy, to ease the release of greenfield sites, and to allow councils to dictate the size, type and affordability of housing schemes.

Civil servants have been swamped by the PPS3 response

Colin byrne, DCLG

John Slaughter, external affairs director at the Home Builders Federation, expressed concern about the delay.

He said: “This may create a hiatus in the local planning process. Therefore we would not like the blockage to be any greater than it has to be.”

Progress on issuing the guidance has also been frustrated by the departure of the two officials that headed the PPS3 drafting team.

A further complicating factor has been last May’s Cabinet reshuffle, leading to the establishment of the DCLG.