Councils critical of Government planning reforms

New research shows that many of England’s local authorities are highly critical of the Government’s proposed planning reforms.

In an analysis of a representative sample of 27 local authority responses to the public consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found that right across England, and regardless of political party control, local authorities are very concerned about the proposed changes to national planning policy.

Their concerns include the definition of sustainable development, the lack of emphasis on reusing brownfield land and the need for appropriate transitional arrangements to ensure a smooth shift to any new system.

Lack of clarity

Kate Houghton, Planning Officer at CPRE, says: “It’s clear that many of the experts working at the coal face of local planning share similar concerns to CPRE about the draft NPPF. Anxiety over the definition of sustainable development and transitional arrangements are especially prominent. This confirms that a lack of clarity in these areas could severely undermine the planning system.

“Our analysis demonstrates that the Government cannot afford to push through their reforms without taking account of these widely held concerns. Changes need to be made to the planning system, but if we don’t get them right we risk causing long term damage to both our urban and rural landscapes.”

Key tools

The planning reforms have been billed as one of the Government’s key tools for stimulating economic growth. CPRE does not believe that the current planning system acts as a barrier to growth, and many local councils have been critical of what they themselves believe is an over emphasis of economic aims in the draft planning proposals, at the expense of social and environmental factors.

Careful consideration

Kate Houghton concluded: “The Government needs to consider very carefully the 14,000 responses to the consultation on the draft NPPF that they have received. If the Government is serious about localism, it must listen to and act on the very real concerns raised by local councils.

“We hope that the final framework will offer clear policies which properly integrate economic, environmental and social objectives. Only this will allow planning to fulfil its important role in facilitating genuinely sustainable development.”

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