Nick Boles letter to the Planning Inspectorate 3 March 2014

Nick Boles letter-1

This is the letter from Nick Boles to the Planning Inpectorate which states “a Green Belt boundary can be altered only in exceptional circumstances and reiterates the importance and permanence of the Green Belt.  The special role of Green Belt is also recognised in the framing of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which sets out that authorities meet objectively assessed needs unless  specific policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted. Crucially, Green Belt is identified as one such policy.”

It is also made clear that Mr Boles expected that this advice would be heeded by the Planning Inspectorate.

Some commentators have instanced the reply from the Planning Inspectorate, and the second letter from Mr Boles, as indicating a withdrawal from this clear statement.  This is not the case- the second letter makes it clear that the NPPF still applies.  But then, the statement above is actually a quotation from the NPPF – see the GGG open letter to councillors dated 25 March 2014 which makes that clear (link here ). So of course it isn’t rejecting the NPPF.

Mr Boles’ statement clearly states that if policies in the Framework (especially Green Belt) indicate that development should be restricted, there is no obligation to meet objectively assessed needs. This is the opposite of the statements currently made by the planning officers in the summary to the Executive for the meeting on 4 June 2014.  We would suggest that they reconsider this advice, which seems to be in contradiction to clear ministerial guidance.


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