Environmental Transport Association #NPPF response

The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) believes that the draft National Planning Policy Framework report (NPPF), born as it is in the depths of economic uncertainty, is flawed because of the British government’s erroneous belief that current planning law is preventing the people of England from achieving wealth and happiness.

The ETA has responded to a ministerial invitation to organisations and individuals to offer suggestions on what priorities and policies might be adopted to produce a shorter, more decentralised and less bureaucratic national planning policy framework.

Read the ETA response in full

Director at the ETA, Andrew Davis, said: “Land-use planning is considered a dry subject of little interest to most people, but if we had no planning law then lack of planning would be considered our number one problem today. “

The main outcomes of the NPPF should, in the ETA’s view, be:

  • To give spatial expression to a coherent vision of England.
  • To improve the quality of life by managing demand and reconciling differences in the public interest through integrating social, economic and environmental objectives.
  • To secure public engagement in and ownership of choices over land-use change and development, and protect and renew communities.
  • To encourage improvements in the quality of development, and to promote beauty and tranquillity, so people may be proud of where they live.
  • To enforce regulations and international commitments on development, land-use change, and public engagement, including contributing significantly to delivering the British government’s legally-binding carbon emissions reduction targets

The policies in the NPPF ranging from housing to transport to minerals are all underpinned by a drive to permit development and not by sustainable development principles that recognise environmental limits. The planning system did not lead to the collapse in the financial system, or the collapse in the housing market. But the planning system is being appropriated to drive unsustainable, poor quality growth of a certain type forward. This will be at the expense of communities and the environment. The ETA recommends that the planning system should not be used as a blunt tool to ‘proactively drive development’.

The NPPF should be revised to set out a sustainable vision for England. It should recognise environmental limits as part of sustainable development, remove the presumption in favour of development, become neutral in the discussions over development and become truly local.

Vince Cable Speech ‘ we are ‘Dismantling…Planning..The bane of businesses large and small’ #NPPF

Vince Cable speech to … guess who the Policy Exchange on 26th

We are, in addition, dismantling unnecessary barriers that stymie growth and hold back investment. The planning regime is being liberalised and regulation and bureaucracy, the bane of businesses large and small, is being cut back.

NT ‘Government mistaking our willingness to talk [on #NPPF] to calm’

NT NPPF blog

Debate over controversial reforms toEngland’s planning system returned to the Lords yesterday. We watched discussions unfold. Here’s a quick summary for you.

The overwhelming view of the Lords seemed to be:

  • They supported the simplification of the planning system
  • But the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) needs to be substantially rewritten

 Clarity and culture

Many Lords spoke of the need to clarify the language in the document while others emphasised the importance of protecting the countryside and heritage. Baroness Andrews was particularly eloquent on the subject of heritage – as we highlighted in our tweet.

In a rare intervention the Church (Bishop of Ripon andLeeds) called for a greater emphasis on justice and the equity of social, environmental and economic factors.

 Sustainable development

A recurring theme was the need to develop a better definition of sustainable development. Even those peers who were more supportive such as Baroness Valentine (Chief Exec of London Firstseemed to suggest the NPPF document needed revision.

Pre-empting Monday’s third reading of Localism Bill (31 October) Baroness Hanham also confirmed that the Government will not be putting a definition of sustainable development in the bill.

 A second consultation? Unlikely

After confirming that the Government has received 14,000 responses to the consultation Baroness Hanham appeared to rule out a second consultation and a debate and vote in both houses, although this is still under consideration.

 Confusion over local plans

The confusion over the status of local plans continues with Baroness Hanham appearing to indicate that existing plans would not become out of date.

This appears to contradict previous statements although she did confirm that the Government is looking at a ‘speeded up’ process to ensure local plans conform with the NPPF.

 Our position

Baroness Hanham wrongly suggested that the National Trust is calmer on the issues. As we tweeted, she might be mistaking our willingness to talk as being calm…

We still have fundamental concerns over the document and the future of planning in England. Incidentally, we’ll be holding a panel discussion on the subject which you can watch live at 2pm on Saturday 29 October.

Yesterdays Lords #NPPF Debate and some key announcements



Some very different messages in the Lords than the commons on transition

Baroness Hanham

The final version will not be available until early next year. It might be later or earlier than that; it depends how quickly we can get on with it, but it will then be the final guiding document for all planning thereafter. Whether it will grease the sides for noble Lords, I do not know, but it has already contracted down. There is a divergence of view on whether or not the contraction has lost something of the flavour of what planning processes should be about. We think that it falls somewhere in the middle, but we will need to talk that through and see whether more provisions need to be added. I do not know what size it will end up being. We hope that a whole batch of following guidance will not be needed. After all, the whole rationale of the NPPF is to try to get rid of thousands of pages of guidance and policies that have had to be taken into account and to make the process easier. If we are to ask local people to develop neighbourhood plans which will support this planning process, they have to be able to understand what they are trying to achieve.

Transitional Process?

We have not decided yet what, if any, transitional arrangements there should be, but we see that you cannot get rid of the regional spatial strategies and not have something else. There is also, of course, the point…that one of the problems about this process is that very many councils have not yet completed their local development framework, which I think was part of the Planning and Compensation Act 2004…. That is probably one of the best reasons why one should be cautious about transitional arrangements, because the arrangements from that Act were transitional-people were going to be able to produce their new policies, and somewhere along the line an awful lot of councils have just sat down and not done enough about it. However, those plans are important and they are going to have to be put together. There will be a speeded-up process. The planning inspectorate and the Minister, Greg Clark, are already in discussions as to what is needed to streamline and quickly get the policy through. They form the background and the base for future strategies.

Definition of Sustainable Development

There is still an enormous number of questions about how much sustainable development is included, and how it is best included in planning. There are the five pillars of which we are all very well aware. There are people who would like to put in at least another two or three. We have to ensure that this is relevant to planning and we will want to develop that further. The five pillars are still in the NPPF [eer no three] but we may want to look at that again.

Will there be parliamentary participation in the final NPPF?

consideration is being given to whether there should be further parliamentary discussion on the final document. That has not been decided, but the Select Committee inquiries and the CLG inquiry are already under way, so there is plenty going on. I shall have to come back in due course to noble Lords as to whether there will be further consultation on the final document. I suspect that the answer may be no.

Regional Strategy Revocation?

the timing of the regional strategy revocations….They will be revoked by order. A consultation is taking place on that at the moment. It is a voluntary consultation carried out by the Government to ensure that the environmental assessment of regional strategies is understood and people have commented on it before they are abolished. Once that has been taken care of, the regional strategies will be revoked

Predetermination and legal challenge all over that statement, the consultation over an assessment is always to consider alternatives to the plan or programme not to consider the assessment.  A more  ill judged statement on an SEA you could not possibly imagine.

No Change in #NPPF on Green Belt Mining

I wont repeat the story in todays Telegraph covering last weeks commons debate! because its just plain wrong.

Mineral extractions status in the green belt is the same as before, its not innappropriate providing it retains the openness of the green belt.

The MPs in question are quite entitled to campaign for a change in that however, although this would have a severe impact on some industries, such as sand and gravel.

A good argument the MPs raised which the telegraph didnt pick up on was how the abolition of national limits on minerals noise and dust could make opencast cases much more contentious.