The consultation on the draft NPPF closed earlier this week. On Monday, the National Trust – one of the most vocal critics of the proposed reforms – handed over a petition containing more than 200,000 signatures calling on the government to make changes to the controversial document.
Speaking during yesterday’s debate, Stunell said: "Of all the thousands of comments that have been made about the NPPF so far, very few have challenged the importance of both the simplification and the localisation that we have set out." He refers to the size of the document which has been reduced from 1000 pages to just over 50.
Responding to a question from Labour MP Tristram Hunt, decentralisation minister Greg Clark told MPs that property developers "had no influence whatever on our draft policy framework".
Clark added that "transitional arrangements" would be put in place to help councils adapt to the reforms. These arrangements would inevitably cost the tax payer a fortune to implement.
Countryside campaigners have warned that the NPPF could result in a development free-for-all in areas without adopted local plans. It stipulates that councils should grant permission where the local plan is "absent, silent or indeterminate".
Clark said: "In the transitional arrangements we will put in place … we will be clear that no local council or authority that has developed a plan that expresses the future of its community will be at all disadvantaged. This is truly hard to believe!
"We are not going to take decision making from them. Part of the transitional arrangements will ensure that the community is advantaged rather than disadvantaged from the outset."
Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn accused the coalition government of approaching planning reform in a "ham-fisted" way.
He said: "The Government hope that planning reform will help growth to get going again, and we all want that.