community action to reduce energy use
The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is set to overturn at a stroke 1,000 pages of planning law and 6,000 pages of planning guidance built up since 1947.
The NPPF came up for discussion with Greg Clark MP on the 16th and at the AGM of CPRE Tunbridge Wells on the 20th. The presumption in favour of sustainable development (para. 13) came up for widespread criticism and Greg pledged to define "sustainable" in the final draft.
The bigger question is: "How can a 58-page planning framework replace the corpus of planning law and practice that has evolved since 1947?" The NPPF casually scraps over sixty years of laws and guidance and leaves countless questions still to be resolved. It will provide a happy hunting ground for lawyers and endless frustration for everyone else.
The presumption in favour of "sustainable development" applies only in cases not covered by a Local Plan. 70% of councils have no Local Plan and, of the remaining 30%, many do not cover specific activities such as mining and quarrying, allowing developers a free hand to develop where and when they want.
The main reason given for providing a new planning framework is to stimulate growth in housing and the economy. Ireland and Spain both had a housing boom up to 2008 and are now left with a legacy of empty houses and office blocks.
In the UK, according to CPRE, there are 738,000 empty homes. There is also enough land lying idle in "land banks" to accommodate at least 280,000 houses.
Altogether more than 2 million new houses could be built on brownfield land.
Clearly the Government has been heavily leant upon, and rewarded, by developers looking for the cheapest option, i.e. developing on greenfield sites.
Our voice needs to be heard. The consultation is now open until October 17th. www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/draftframeworkconsultation Philip.
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