Housing minister says he will give councils time to update local plans before rolling out changes to planning

Housing minister Grant Shapps has hinted that the government could introduce a transition period before implementing its controversial planning reforms.

Under the proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a presumption in favour of sustainable development will apply where councils do not have a coherent local development plan.

Around 70% of councils do not currently have a filed local development plan, which has led anti-reform lobbyists to claim that the changes would lead to a development free for all.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Shapps appeared to open the door to a period of delay before reforms came in, in a move which will provoke concern from housebuilders and developers in favour of reform. He said: “We will ensure that there is a period of time, a transition, for local authorities to have plans filed and agreed.”

Shapps’ comments came as Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told the conference that the country needed a planning system which “is quicker, and provides greater certainty.” He said: “We can help the economy by building more homes…[But] this is not a choice between countryside and concrete.”

Referring to heavy campaigning against the reforms by the National Trust, Pickles added: “It will come as no surprise, I’m sure, that Mrs Pickles and I are partial to the odd scone in a National Trust tea room. But planning needs to be improved.”