Nadim Zahami, Conservative MP and member of the Number 10 Policy Board, has called on the Planning Minister Nick Boles to reform the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to stop “intense attacks” on the countryside. Zahawi noted that the NPPF’s “presumption for sustainable development” has left councils hamstrung in their efforts to block developments.
This intervention by Zahawi highlights the ongoing tension within the Conservative Party over planning reforms, and will not endear him to the Prime Minister. The NPPF introduced rules designed to encourage ‘bottom up’ planning, with local communities at the heart of developments, but this has since been undermined by a series of further reforms allowing the Secretary of State to intervene where developments are being stalled.
With the Government is still under intense pressure to meet housing need, as house building sits at its lowest rate in a generation, the Party is split between those in rural communities who want to defend their landscape, and Boles who has called for “beautiful housing” in rural areas. Prime Minister David Cameron has also recently announced that there will be no new house building in rural areas prior to the 2015 General Election.