The government are looking at how to introduce a transition period to give councils time to produce a local plan, but they are resisting any attempt to introduce a reasonable time period for doing so. One excuse given by one of their tame peers, is that councils have had 8 years to produce plans, but the majority still haven’t, so why give them any more time now?
This reasoning, which is actually no reasoning at all, but simply a smoke-screen for wanting to get their own way as soon as possible, ignores the fact that the whole process of plan making is extremely complicated and highly expensive. It also ignores the fact that, until recently, councils could use the default position of using the national policies detailed in planning policy guidance and statements. Unless there was pressing need, such as special local circumstances, why would a council spend large amounts of their taxpayers money producing a local plan?
Successive governments have lulled councils in to what now appears to be a false sense of security, by burying them under multiple layers of planning policy and guidance, for the last 60+ years. Now the current government is throwing all that policy in the bin and then blaming councils for not having any of their own policies. Just to add insult to injury, the government has now produced the sloppily worded NPPF, as a replacement for all that planning policy, with a statement in it designed to ‘punish’ councils that don’t have their own policies; where a plan is silent, indeterminate or out of date, planning permission should be given without delay.
The double whammy of no plan and no time to produce one, is potentially as damaging as the presumption in favour statement that we are all getting so hot and bothered about. I hope as much effort is put into getting a sensible timescale put in place, as has been expended to date, in exposing the NPPF as a flawed document.