Issue - decisions

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) consultation and Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill Amendments

24/02/2023 - National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Consultation

Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Group Head of Planning presented the report which sought the Committee’s agreement of a Council response tothe Government’s consultation on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework. The Group Head of Planning explained that, in his opinion, the changes were not fundamental and fell short of expectations following the ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper back in 2020 though the changes would have some impact on Arun as detailed in the report.


Members then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised and responded to by Officers, including:

·       passing the duty to cooperate being the first legal hurdle a Local Plan must demonstrate before it can proceed to tests of ‘soundness’, and the proposed changes downgrading the legal requirement to a policy test i.e. an ‘alignment test’ as part of the ‘soundness’ tests at examination

·       the reviewing of green belt policy in question 9 and the absence of green belt from Arun

·       whether housing availability and uptake of empty homes should be included in the list of considerations in question 10 or whether this would confuse subjective and evidential character measures

·       biodiversity interventions in question 37, the need to include habitat continuity and nature recovery networks, and the Biodiversity Net Gain Study adopted at Committee on 24 November 2022 [Minute 452]

·       question 40 and promoting topographical opportunities within the District

·       disappointment at the missed opportunity by central Government that amounted to minor tweaks that did not help Arun

·       the need to be stronger as a Council and greater appreciation of the exceptional circumstances Arun finds itself in positioned between the sea and the South Downs National Park

·       the need for central Government to get rid of the 5-year housing land supply and be stronger with developers who were land banking

·       whether the 5-year housing land supply could include not only houses built but also houses given permission to be built to put some of the onus back on developers to build

·       the context provided by the impending Levelling Up Bill

·       Neighbourhood Plans and support for the proposal that these be given greater weight in planning decisions as these indicated what communities wanted

·       housing market absorption and the failure of developers as shown in the data

·       the need for central Government to revise its house building figures based on demographic projections

·       food security and the timescales involved in consulting on reflecting the food production value of land in planning decisions


Councillor Thurston queried why questions 41 to 43 had ‘no comment’ as the Council’s response when she believed Arun should be supporting these measures (encouraging energy production efficiency, updating wind turbines and re-powering renewable and low carbon technologies without the need for new planning permissions). The Group Head of Planning clarified that Arun did support them but had no specific comment to make on the changes as proposed in the consultation. Councillor Thurston then proposed that ‘no comment’ for these three responses should be changed to positive wording that affirmed support for the changes. This was seconded by Councillor Yeates. After a vote, this was declared CARRIED.


Reflecting on the discussion had by Members, Councillor Bower suggested that the consultation response and recommendation should contain a personal view of the Council, in addition to the responses to the questions asked, about Members’ experience of the NPPF and how they had found it working in practice [to be supplied to the Group Head of Planning by Committee Members outside of the meeting]. There was agreement that this statement should concentrate on the failure of developers to build out at a rate that would have allowed Arun to deliver a 5-year housing land supply. The recommendation, with the additional wording ‘and updated to include a personal view of Councillors in consultation with the Group Head of Planning and Chair of Planning Policy Committee’ was then proposed by Councillor Hughes and seconded by Councillor Goodheart.


The Committee




That the response to the consultation, attached at Appendix 1 in the Officer report, be agreed and updated to include a personal view of Councillors in consultation with the Group Head of Planning and Chair of Planning Policy Committee