With the consultation period for the draft proposal now closed, I had the following email from The National Trust a day or two ago.
On Monday, the last day of the Government’s consultation on proposed reforms to our planning system, we went to Downing Street to give the Government our recommendations, backed by an astonishing 210,000 signatures on our petition.
Thanks to people like you, we’ve drawn attention to an important issue that threatens our countryside. When the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was launched in July, there was a big chance that it would go unnoticed. Between us, we’ve made sure it didn’t.
What needs to change?
The draft NPPF sets out to simplify our current planning system and to give local people a greater say in planning in their area. These are good aims. In the process, though, it puts economic goals first in any consideration of planning. It suggests using our planning system as an engine for growth. We want to see a much more balanced document that gives equal weight to social, environmental, and economic needs.
What have we achieved?
So as well as raising awareness of the issue, we’ve begun a national debate over the purpose of the planning system. The Prime Minister has confirmed to us that it should be balanced between those social, environmental and economic needs. This is just the start – we need the next draft of the NPPF to reflect that. It should be published in the New Year.
We’ll continue to keep the pressure on those now reviewing the NPPF, and you can help too. Please do write to your MP to share your concerns. The consultation may be closed, but Ministers are now considering the thousands of responses they have received, so you can let them know you care about the outcome.
I’ve highlighted what I see as the key statement in the third paragraph. I too was troubled by the coupling of the planning system with growth and further with sustainable development when I wrote my summary of the National Planning Policy Framework earlier in the month. With a revised draft document due out in the new year, I’d hope to see further clarity in reference to the relationship between planning, growth and sustainability as promoted by the authors of the Framework. The nature of this relationship as currently described (albeit not always explicitly) seems at odds with much current thought in regard to economic reality, how the public view the planning system and true sustainability.