Thoughts on planning system

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On the 30th April this year, Greg Mulholland MP introduced a bill, under the ten minute rule, for amendment of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

It is sponsored by MPs from all three major parties, and addresses a number of issues that affect local rural communities.

The Bill will now receive a second hearing on 6th June 2014, this Friday. This Bill, which enjoys cross-party support, will address some of the issues that have angered and frustrated many affected by the flood of major planning applications, many by speculative developers, since the inception of the NPPF.

The acronym NIMBY was popularised by Nicholas Ridley, Secretary of State for the Environment in the late 80s, who turned out to be one of the first. Nowadays the term is exploited by politicians and developers as a means of dismissing local people who object to contentious developments on green spaces.

But what if groups like The National Trust, Civic Voice, The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the recently formed Community Voice on Planning, who together represent the views of many many millions of people across the country, object to the very same thing?

Many think that the NPPF may not be working in the anticipated way. In particular, that the local voice is not being heard and that this is a cause of resentment, especially in rural communities.

The Bill urges Government to:

  • Recognise that there are serious short-comings to the definition of 'sustainability' in current use and amend the NPPF and the guidance accordingly to give greater weight to heritage, ecology, transport and culture.
  • Do more to ensure that development is preferred and prioritised on brownfield and city sites.
  • Do more to protect green areas of special value to local areas.
  • Scrap the current 5 year supply definition and allow permissions to be counted as part of this.
  • Accept that the expectations for the production of Local Plans in the allotted time-scale were unrealistic and allow a further period of grace to those local authorities that are still struggling to achieve this.
  • Seriously consider the short-comings of building-by-numbers

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