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Volume 477: debated on Friday 20 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons her Department plans to abolish the needs test in the new edition of Planning Policy Statement 6. (212655)

As set out in the Planning White Paper: “Planning for a Sustainable Future” in May 2007, the need test has proved to be a blunt instrument and can have the unintended effect of restricting competition and consumer choice. For example, a proposal on the edge of a town centre that would support the centre and bring wider benefits can be refused because the identified need is being met by an existing or proposed out of centre development.

The Government are reviewing the current approach in “Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres” (PPS6) to assessing the impact of proposals outside town centres and will replace the need and impact tests with a new test which has a strong focus on our town centre first policy, and which promotes competition and improves consumer choice. We intend to publish a consultation paper on proposed revisions to PPS6 later this summer.