New Planning Guidance

Chairman of the National Trust, Simon Jenkins, has an interesting piece in the The Guardian today, rather begrudgingly accepting that the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework (published yesterday) strikes a ‘sensible’ balance. It is worth a read here. The Telegraph also back the revised guidance, summarising the changes here.

I support cutting the bureaucracy involved in planning, not least because it ties up councils and taxpayers’ money in a protracted and prolonged procedural war of attrition. However, both privately and publicly, I have made the case for stronger local checks on development. I engaged in extensive local consultation with Elmbridge councillors and residents, and having received those views I wrote to Ministers and the PM, and spoke in the House of Commons debate.
Salient points from the new guidance include:
  • Defining ‘sustainable development’ to include the local environment, not just economic development.
  • Requiring development of brownfield sites before others.
  • Letting local and accountable councils lead the way with with local plans – the new guidance applies where there is no plan or it is out of date.
  • Clear green belt protections that are not trumped by the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
  • Greater powers to prevent garden-grabbing.
I don’t think the new guidance is perfect. But, it is much better both than the previous draft and Labour’s top-down system of housing targets. A sober read of it should dispel some of the irresponsible scaremongering that has been doing the rounds of late.