A report in trade magazine Inside Housing last week had said that Lewis told it that there would be no problem if councils made a conscious decision to rely instead on provisions in the NPPF.
The magazine said that Lewis stated: "Somewhere could conceivably decide that they don’t want a local plan and they will rely on the NPPF".
He added that, while this would not be "necessarily ideal" there would be "no role for the government" if such a decision was taken.
But the DCLG has moved to play down the comments. A spokesman for the department said: "80 per cent of councils now have a published local plan, and we want all councils to have an up to date local plan.
"As the minister explained, the National Planning Policy Framework already has detailed provisions for how planning decisions should be considered when a council does not have a local plan; this provides a very strong encouragement for slow-coaches without a plan to get moving on finalising theirs."