To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 15 June to Question 151020, what the exceptional circumstances under which a strategic plan can successfully demonstrate a need for changes to green belt boundaries are.
5 July 2018
For the first time, the Government has proposed that the new National Planning Policy Framework set out that a local authority, before planning to alter a Green Belt boundary, should show that it has examined all other reasonable options for addressing its identified development needs: making as much use as possible of brownfield and under-used land; optimising density; and discussing with neighbouring authorities whether they could take some of the necessary development, as agreed in a Statement of Common Ground. Beyond that, it is for the local authority to state which factors amount to exceptional circumstances. The local authority should also have regard to the purposes of Green Belt and the need for Green Belt boundaries that will endure. At examination of the revised Plan, the planning inspector will assess the soundness of any proposed change to a Green Belt boundary. Consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework closed on 10 May and, after carefully considering the comments received, we will issue the revised version before summer recess.
We are not proposing to alter the ‘very special circumstances’ test a local authority applies when it receives a planning application for inappropriate development on Green Belt land. It should generally refuse planning permission for such development, but it will be for the authority to determine whether there are very special circumstances in the case, and what weight to give to each. Even if a proposal is of a type listed in the Framework as not inappropriate in Green Belt, it may still not be successful if there are other grounds warranting refusal of permission.