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Planning Policy

Volume 205: debated on Tuesday 10 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will revise planning policy guidance note No. 1 to withdraw the general presumption in favour of development as it relates to the preparation of development plans.

[pursuant to his answer, 4 February 1992, c. 134]: We have today published a revised planning policy guidance note 1 "General Policy and Principles" (PPG1) which replaces the 1988 version and advice in earlier circulars. The new document sets out the broad principles within which development plans are to be prepared and the basis on which planning permissions should be given or refused.PPG1 reiterates the Government's commitment to sustainable growth and to reconciling development with conservation of the environment. The aim is to secure economy, efficiency and amenity in the use of land. Among other matters highlighted in the guidance note we have drawn to the attention of local planning authorities:

the enhanced role of development plans in setting the framework for planning decisions;
the need to eliminate unnecessary delay in determining planning applications;
the particular categories of development proposals that require a full environmental assessment;
the importance of design, crime prevention, noise considerations and access requirements, particularly for disabled people, in securing quality of environment.

Some of these matters will be the subject of more detailed guidance in forthcoming circulars. In the meantime, the new document replaces PPG1 of January 1988 and much of DOE circular 22/80.

We are also publishing today a revised planning policy guidance note No. 3 "Housing" (PPG3) which replaces the 1988 version of the PPG and advice in various earlier circulars.

The PPG reiterates the message that the planning system must provide an adequate and continuous supply of land for housing, taking into account market demand and the Government's policies for encouraging home ownership and the provision of rented housing. But in doing so it must also maintain the Government's established policies for the protection of the countryside, the conservation of natural habitats and of the built heritage, and the protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land.

The main changes to previous policy are:

increased emphasis on re-using urban land, particularly derelict or under-used land, for housing as a means of relieving pressure on the countryside;
encouragement for housing development on sites with permission for other development, but where there is no realistic prospect of that other development taking place;
greater emphasis on the importance of local choice, through the local and unitary development plan process, in deciding how to meet the needs for new housing development;
encouragement of closer co-operation between local authorities' planning and housing functions;
withdrawal, because it is not consistent with a plan-led system, of the special presumption in favour of releasing land for housing where there is less than a five year supply;
clearer policy on the circumstances in which new settlements may be considered as an alternative to expanding existing towns and villages; on this issue the essential message is the need to respect local choice.

The PPG also incorporates the Government's planning policies for the provision of affordable housing set out in circular 7/91, "Planning and Affordable Housing", which is now cancelled.