Lord Stunnell on how the Treasury rewrote the #NPPF

Hansard  This is rewriting history to some extent as we know the first draft of the NPPF was not written by civil servents but by PAG and the changes to the PAG version when released to consultation were tiny.

I have a cautionary tale about the NPPF. Back in the department, the first version of the NPPF was produced, but it could not be sent out to the public without the Whitehall write-round—which means that a document has to be signed off by every other department in government. It came back with big red marks all over it from the Treasury. There was a big row inside government—I have not written my memoirs but one day I will—about the NPPF being rewritten by the Treasury. It went through a couple of rewrites and bounces before it came out—and the first version that the public saw was heavily doctored by the Treasury.

Your Lordships may have forgotten that that led to a furious row. For instance, millions of people who belonged to the National Trust wrote to their MPs—and, no doubt, your Lordships—and there was a great deal of backtracking by the Government. Eventually, the current NPPF was published and it is now widely acclaimed as being a very good document that encapsulates exactly what everybody thought in the first place. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the draft document that DCLG officials and Ministers first produced. For what it is worth, I have the relevant copies in a file. A pointless row over the NPPF was triggered by the Treasury’s lack of simple understanding of basic planning principles, lack of common sense and lack of knowledge or application of human psychology. I strongly suspect that the changes to the pre-commencement planning conditions have come from the same stable.