It must be what every Minister dreams of – the publication of a document which secures contented noises from both supporters and dissenters. But this is the happy world that Greg Clark inhabits following the publication of the NPPF yesterday.
The Government has been congratulated by business and development groups for having “stuck to its guns”, “held its nerve” and “pushed through with reforms” – yet others have lauded the “important changes” to the NPPF that have come from the Government’s “listening to the concerns of the environment sector”.
Even on the finer detail, most groups were able to cite the retention or inclusion of some policy or other that pleases them. The most significant change for many was the inclusion of a definition of sustainable development – this was welcomed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, CPRE and Local Government Association. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the RSPB also highlighted the improvement in protection for SSSIs and the Wildlife Trusts noted that Local Wildlife Sites and Nature Improvement Areas get some recognition.
Both the British Retail Consortium and the Campaign for Better Transport were pleased at the inclusion of office developments in the Town Centre First principle. The National Farmers Union and Country Land and Business Association saw aspects of the NPPF that will boost the rural economy.
Development and business groups have been more general in their support of a Framework they say will boost growth, refraining from commenting on detail – see Institute of Directors, CBI, Federation of Master Builders, London First.
This isn’t to say that all concerns have been allayed: the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust say it gives low value to locally designated sites. CPRE still have concerns that the overall balance of the document remains in favour of economic concerns and that the brownfield preference is not as strong as in previous guidance. However, the headline reactions remain generally positive.
Perhaps, in the early hours of the new planning system, interest groups were keen to establish their preferred interpretation – there remains some loose language in the final document, and much will depend on how local authorities use the NPPF as a basis for their local plans.
A lot rests on how the NPPF is read as a document in its entirety, and implemented at a local level. This is one aspect of the NPPF that all are agreed upon – these changes place huge responsibility on local authorities and communities, and this is where the hard work must now begin, to ensure that planning works for people and places.
NPPF – who said what
Welcome reference to intrinsic value of countryside, inclusion of definition of sustainable development and improvement on brownfield. Warn that balance still lies in favour of economic growth, and that the brownfield policy is not as strong as previous guidance.
Friends of the Earth
Welcome inclusion of sustainable development definition, but warn this will not prevent bad planning on its own.
Definition of sustainable development very welcome and concerns about weakening of SSSI protection appear to have been allayed.
Transfer of phrasing protecting ancient woods and trees welcome. However, that applications leading to the loss of these habitats should not be approved unless the needs for and benefits of outweigh the loss, leaves a dangerous loophole.
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
NPPF used right definition of sustainable development and NPPF now good on protection for SSSIs and ‘priority habitat’. Values locally designated sites quite low.
Welcome inclusion of Local Wildlife Sites and Nature Improvement Areas in NPPF.
British Chambers of Comerce
Reforms will help speed up the system and allow planning to be a positive tool, rather than a weapon to fight battles against change and growth.
British Property Federation
Welcome “sensible” change to the planning framework, including brownfield and town centre first policies and the revised definition of sustainable development.
British Retail Consortium
Welcome inclusion of office developments in Town Centre First principle and say the simplification of the planning system will help boost local economies.
Confederation of British Industry
New framework “gets the balance right” between growth, society and the environment. The planning system has been a drag on growth, but this framework allows people to make decisions for themselves.
Country Land and Business Association
Very happy with section on the rural economy.
Campaign for Better Transport
Pleased at inclusion of offices in Town Centre First principle but worried about “dash for growth” allowing developments which generate local traffic jams.
Institute of Directors
Cutting of unnecessary regulation will “get Britain building again”.
Local Government Association
Clarification of SD is positive and the reasonable timeframe of a year to develop local plans is welcome.
Getting rid of bureaucracy will help growth.
National Farmers Union
Welcomes boost to rural economy, but caveats on the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ mean it is not the simplification of planning law originally expected.
Town and Country Planning Association
NPPF allows the planning of new settlements, or extensions to existing settlements following the principles of Garden Cities. Definition of sustainable development welcome. Will look at functionality of transition arrangements.
Blog post by Ellen Reaich, National Trust Government and Parliament Campaign Assistant