Report criticises changes to the planning system for allowing unsustainable development and urges reform

The government’s proposed reforms to the planning system will allow unsustainable developments to go ahead and need “significant” reform, according to a report by MPs.

A highly critical communities department select committee report on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), said that the government needs to remove references to the default answer to planning applications being “yes”.

It called for the government to drop references to planning applications being approved unless the adverse effects “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits,” and called for a bias in favour of brownfield development to be re-introduced.

The publication of the NPPF in July 2011 was designed to reduce more than 1,000 pages of planning guidance to a 60-page document, and proposes introducing a presumption in favour of sustainable development to the planning system.

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “As currently drafted the ‘default yes’ to development carries the risk of the planning system being used to implement unsustainable development.”

It called for the government to tighten drafting in key areas to avoid fuelling a system of “planning by appeal”.