By Maximilian Clarke

A leading business lobby has challenged the Communities and Local Government Committee who this morning (Wednesday) called for ‘significant changes’ the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The MPs called for a change to the proposals which, they argue, automatically favour developers and place a greater emphasis on economic growth above social or environmental considerations.

Commenting today, the head of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) again urged government to press ahead with the reforms which at present are prohibitively complex.

“Businesses have long called for greater speed, clarity and certainty in the planning system,” said Adam Marshall, BCC Director of Policy. “The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) set forward a planning regime that balanced economic growth with environmental concerns. Suggestions by the committee that the draft needs significantly altering, including the removal of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, risk the ability of businesses up and down the country to grow, and help our economy to recover.

“The debate on planning reform has to be based on common sense, not the predictable responses of a few opponents. The current system has developed into an overly complex, costly, uncertain and time-consuming process that discourages investment. The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has failed to recognise the extent to which the planning system is a constraint on economic growth. We all want to protect areas of the countryside, but business's experience of planning on even the most modest developments shows that the system, and its bureaucracy, is a serious brake on economic growth, prosperity and jobs.

“Further consultation will just result in greater delays when reform is needed now. The government has made commitments to both simplifying the planning system, and helping businesses to grow. The two go hand in hand, and we urge ministers to hold fast on both by delivering a planning system that helps not hinders business growth.”

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