The Government has decided that there will not be a definition of sustainable development on the face of the Localism Bill, but it would be included in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Communities and Local Government Minister Baroness Hanham signalled the move during a debate in the Upper House on the draft NPPF.
She told peers: “We have thought very carefully about putting this [the definition] in the Bill. We now believe that the proper place for this is in the framework.”
At the third reading of the Localism Bill in the Lords on 1 November she stressed the administration’s “firm intention of expanding the definition of sustainable development” in the NPPF.
During the debate on the draft NPPF on 26 October the minister revealed that the Government was now sifting through 14, 000 responses to the consultation of the draft NPPF.
She said the Government would publish the final version of the document by the end of April 2012, “earlier if possible”.
She said: “We will read every single submission that has been made and we will test and retest our wording to make sure the impact of our proposals matches our intentions.”
She also clarified that the administration had concluded that the draft NPPF did not require strategic environment assessment as it was guidance rather than a legislative statutory document and not a plan or programme.
The minister also highlighted what was happening about the revocation of regional strategies – and what was intended over transitional arrangements for local plans – and their status.
She said consultation had begun on revocation. “It is a voluntary consultation carried out by the Government to ensure that the environmental assessment of regional strategies is understood and people have commented on it before they are abolished.”
As for local plans, she said that they “will remain part and parcel of the requirements that people have to pay attention to. Those that have already been developed can and should be updated. That is going to be done on a fast-track basis. I said earlier that discussions were going on with the inspectorate.
“Those policies that have relied on the regional spatial strategies will maintain until and unless they are changed, and with the adoption of the National Planning Policy Framework.
“Where they are completed, they are the supporting documents; where they are not completed, they will have to be completed as quickly as possible. In between that, account will have to be taken of the National Planning Policy Framework in any decisions being made.”
Baroness Hanham confirmed that the Planning Inspectorate would be responsible for issuing the certificates of conformity and also for ensuring that the fast-tracking of plans is put in hand.
She was asked whether the introduction of the NPPF would make a recently adopted local plan either incomplete or out of date. The minister said: “The answer to that is no, quite categorically. It is not going to be out of date but the NPPF will then be a matter that has to be taken into account alongside it.”
3 November 2011