During a cabinet meeting held yesterday 'problems' with planning at the local level were condemned as an unnecessary 'blockage' slowing economic growth.
The Prime Minister had only one item on the agenda for the weekly cabinet meeting; challenging ministers about the lack of delivery of the government’s Plan for Growth which accompanied the Budget nearly a year ago in March 2011.
The meeting concluded that over-restrictive planning laws, poor bank lending and EU legislation were to blame. The Financial Times reported that local government secretary Eric Pickles was angered by suggestions from Cabinet colleagues that he was also part of the problem by dragging his feet on implementing planning reforms. He countered the accusation pointing out that the controversial National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) would be revised and re-published by the end of March.
The most controversial part of the NPPF - the presumption in favour of sustainable development where local plans are silent or not in place – appears likely to be retained in the final version.
Speaking at the British Property Federation annual dinner yesterday Local Government permanent secretary Sir Bob Kerslake said, "Economic growth is paramount across every aspect of this government’s policies. And in the national planning policy framework, the presumption will help to ensure that this happens."
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