Councils will be required to increase the amount of land they earmark for housing development, the coalition Government's draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) has confirmed.
Existing planning guidance requires local authorities to "identify and maintain a rolling five-year supply of deliverable land for housing".
But the draft NPPF, published today, says that, on top of this, the "supply should include an additional allowance of at least 20 per cent to ensure choice and competition in the market for land".
A leaked version of the much-awaited document, seen by Planning earlier this month, had included the measure, which the official draft NPPF says is intended to "ensure choice and competition in the market for land".
The Government had been widely expected to publish the draft NPPF earlier this month, prompting the Labour Party to accuse ministers of "dithering" over its publication date last week.
The document is intended to consolidate all current planning policy documents into a single circular.
The draft NPPF says that the presumption in favour of sustainable development should be seen as the "golden thread" running through both plan making and decision taking.
It confirms that local authorities must "grant planning permission where the plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date".
The draft NPPF also says that, when considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that "substantial weight" is given to any harm to the green belt.
The document says that "very special circumstances" will not exist, "unless the potential harm to the green belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.
In the document’s foreword, decentralisation minister Greg Clark said: "Development that is sustainable should go ahead without delay – a presumption in favour of sustainable development that is the basis for every plan, and every decision. This framework sets out clearly what could make a proposed plan or development unsustainable."