Planning minister Brandon Lewis MP has admitted that the government does not monitor the effectiveness of planning rules it introduced to promote town centre development.

Lewis told MPs that the National Planning Policy Framework was a matter for local authorities to deal with as part of their local plans, despite fewer than one in seven actually having plans in place that comply with the NPPF.

Speaking to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, he questioned the methodology of ACS research suggesting that 76% of developments approved since the NPPF came into force have been out of town, claiming that a random sample of half of the decisions was “not necessarily the whole picture of what’s going on around the country”.

When asked by Simon Danczuk MP about the data the government collects on planning, the minister said that “we don’t collate that sort of information from local authorities”.

Lewis also admitted that the government had collected no data about the effectiveness of the sequential test.

Speaking during the evidence session, Danczuk said: “So the government doesn’t collect figures on where houses are built, whether it’s on brownfield or greenfield, they don’t collect information or statistics on where retail floorspace is built, whether it’s out of town or in town centres. Does the government know anything about anything that’s being built anywhere in the United Kingdom?”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “By not monitoring planning decisions, and by failing to promote its own town centre first policy, the government is allowing more out of town development which damages high streets and goes against consumer trends towards more local shopping.  

“Without the confidence that major developers can only get from rigorous adherence to a town centre first policy, they will look to cheaper, easier out of town developments. The government either does not understand this, or it has lost interest in planning policy.”