If ever there was a wrecking ball swinging through hopes for economic growth in the region, then Michael Gove's pre-Christmas announcement and the Department for Levelling Up consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework would feature high in any hit parade.

The consultation has caused widespread alarm in the housebuilding and construction industry in the South East as the government seek to remove local planning authorities' obligations to continually demonstrate a deliverable five-year housing supply. In addition, gone will be the tests of soundness for local plan making with a watered-down test on deliverability. Whilst the proposals are only in consultation at this stage it seems clear to all but the most diehard government supporters that this is an anti-growth charter that will leave a scorched earth planning environment for any subsequent government. Surely bad for economic growth, bad for tackling the housing affordability crisis and bad for local business.

Planning consultant Andrew Black (andrew@andrewblackconsulting.co.uk) sees it as "one of the biggest challenges to planning policy in recent memory".

The consultation runs until 2nd March with indication that the government will respond in Spring 2023. Already, districts and local planning authorities are putting heavy fingers on the pause button for new development, and we can only hope that common sense will surface before the outcome of the consultation is known.

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