Controversial NPPF to value ‘ordinary’ countryside
The Government’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework will recognise the ‘intrinsic value and beauty’ of the English countryside.
The NPPF received vigorous criticism when it was leaked last July, from environmental campaigners and those worried it about its ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ clause.
Planning minister Greg Clark announced that the National Planning NPPF would come into force today, stating it enshrined councils’ local plans as the ‘keystone of the planning system’.
Mr Clark revealed to the Commons there are ‘transitional arrangements’ in place, agreed with the Local Government Association, to give councils 12 months from today to establish a legally adopted local plan on planning.
If no plan exists the presumption would be in favour of sustainable development. However, the minister gave assurances that as more than half of councils have yet to establish a local plan, ‘weight would be given to emerging plans’. He also said sustainable development should work through not against local plans.
There are a number of concessions to environmental campaigners such as Friends of the Earth who were concerned the NPPF would ‘unleash a building free-for-all’, including guidance on recognising the ‘intrinsic value and beauty’ of the English countryside.
Councils’ plans must encourage brownfield sites – previously developed urban sites – to be brought back into use, Mr Clark said asserting that national guidance on such sites would be ‘inappropriate’.
There is also ‘specific wording in the guidance that councils are under a duty to protect valued local facilities’ Mr Clark revealed, along with allowances for councils to protect back gardens from development.
In response shadow communities secretary, Hilary Benn, said that far from speeding up the planning process the NPPF would lead to ‘uncertainty and chaos, the worst of all worlds rather than the best of planning’.
He also referred to the Budget document which stated: ‘The Government will also work with key statutory consultees to ensure that they support the delivery of sustainable development in line with the NPPF and are held to account for doing so.’
Mr Clark said the new framework had been strengthened by the responses to the consultation. '
'We have confirmed the core reforms, sharpened the definition of the policies, and emphasised the essential balance that the planning system must achieve.
'These reforms will help build the homes the next generation needs, it will let businesses expand and create jobs, and it will conserve what we hold dear in our matchless countryside and the fabric of our history.'
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