Communities secretary speech claims opponents of NPPF ‘haven’t read the consultation documents’

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has taken aim at the growing lobby opposed to the government’s planning reforms, claiming they have not done their research.

Pickles, who was speaking at the annual RESI housebuilding conference in Wales, criticised the campaign led by the National Trust and the Daily Telegraph against the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“They’ve got hot and bothered without reading the consultation documents,” he said.

Pickles also dismissed the controversy surrounding the NPPF’s “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

“There’s always been a presumption in favour of development since the 1948 [Town and County Planning] Act,” he said.

The minister said the government was committed to greater development and wanted to “get Britain building again”. He claimed the NPPF changes were necessary to reform planning and to cut the cost of development.

“We have a strange situation where planning costs have grown as applications have fallen. Office space is more expensive in Manchester and Birmingham than Manhattan,” he said.

Pickles reiterated that the government’s localism agenda will remain in place.

“Localism is here to stay. The best developers know that if you get into a partnership with communities you’ve got a better opportunity to build something valuable. Those that don’t engage will quickly fall behind.”