Monday, 5 May 2014

Parliamentary review on the NPPF: deadline Weds 8th May

There has been an awful lot of pressure on central government over its National Planning Policy Framework:
Futures Forum: The NPPF under pressure: building houses on green space
Futures Forum: Devon County and national planning policy: "The NPPF has been sufficiently poisonous a development that 38 Conservative MPs expressed their misgivings about it as long ago as March last year in a letter to the Telegraph."
Futures Forum: Sustainable Development: and the NPPF

A report from the Planning Review blog last November:

NPPF faces parliamentary probe

MPs are to carry out an inquiry into the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it has been announced.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is expected to open its new investigation in spring next year with its report due after the summer recess.

Committee chair Clive Betts told Planning he expected a call for evidence to be launched in February or March.

He said terms of reference had yet to be determined, but that the committee had previously expressed a desire to look into the practical effects of the NPPF once it had been given "time to bed down".
Betts said he expected prominent topics to include: greenfield construction, housing supply levels, developers’ behaviour toward authorities without local plans in place, out-of-town development, the success of "town-centre first" policies, and new energy developments.
"To an extent we’d expect submissions of evidence to influence the shape of the inquiry," he said.
"We’ll be very interested in clear examples of where concerns are being raised about the impact of the framework: Particularly from planners – or anyone else – with hard examples of cases where applications have been accepted despite appearing to be in conflict with what we believed the NPPF was about."
The committee previously published a 244-page report on the draft NPPF in December 2011.
NPPF faces parliamentary probe | Planning Resource

The Commons Select Committee on Communities and Local Government will be considering the NPPF - and any written submissions should be in by this Wednesday 8th May:

Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework

Written submissions

The Committee is conducting an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in its first two years. The Committee wants to hear about the impact of the framework on planning for housing, town centres and energy infrastructure.

Terms of reference

The Committee invites submissions on how the NPPF has worked in practice since it came into operation in April 2012. The Committee has three areas it wishes to examine and would welcome submissions that address one or more of the following:
  • planning for housing;
  • town centres; and
  • planning for energy infrastructure (excluding energy infrastructure covered by National Policy Statements).
The Committee also seeks views on the implications upon the NPPF of the findings of its research into the nature of planning constraints. Evidence from local government scrutiny committees is particularly welcome.
The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with itsguidelines by 5pm on Thursday, 8 May. As a guideline submissions should be no longer than 3000 words. Submissions should be uploaded onto the website in Word format no later than the deadline. The Committee cannot review individual planning decisions.

Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework - UK Parliament

The East Devon Alliance will be making a submission:


East Devon Alliance’s Submission to the Communities and Local Government Inquiry into the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework
A. Executive Summary
The East Devon Alliance, its aims and its concerns about the application of the NPPF in the district.
Members’ views on the Cambridge report.
The actions we believe Parliament should take to redress the bias and the damaging effects of the current NPPF.
B. East Devon Alliance
1. The East Devon Alliance is a voluntary, non-party-political, not-for-profit organisation, bringing together communities from across the district of East Devon. Its purpose is to conserve, for future generations, our priceless environmental assets. At the same time it supports appropriate development for housing and employment, especially for local people, so that East Devon remains a flourishing and vibrant place.
We are deeply concerned at the excessive growth projections threatening our towns, villages, countryside, heritage and tourist industry. Many green spaces – Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, “green wedges”, high-grade agricultural land, public parkland, and allotments – are being turned into housing estates that are out of character and scale with the surrounding location. Speculative building on green spaces is not delivering low-cost homes for local people. All too oftensuch building is not accompanied by the infrastructure necessary to produce the vibrant, sustainable environments called for by the NPPF.
The failure of East Devon District Council to set a Local Plan and to meet a 5 or 6-year land supply is a case in point. The NPPF’s presumption in favour of ill-defined “sustainable development” has inevitably tipped the balance in favour of developers, keen to build on open – and cheap – local countryside, causing widespread anger across local communities, and amongst Council-Tax payers whose voice has generally been ignored: material objections are being overridden in favour of housing numbers that have been described by many as “fanciful”.
Deficiencies and a perceived lack of transparency by East Devon District Council has led to a situation where many believe inappropriate development to be an inevitable consequence. These faults – and the influence upon the Local Plan by a former developer Councillor, who had direct influence on the genesis of the draft Local Plan, and was exposed seemingly as a “Councillor-for-hire” by the Daily Telegraph”(March 11, 2013) – has contributed to a suspicion on the part of the public that planning in the district is “developer-led”. In such an environment, the pro-development stance of the NPPF affords the public no comfort.
In light of this, planning officers have recommended, and in almost all cases councillors have approved, massive housing applications across the west of the district in ribbon, green-wedge and green-belt developments on top-grade agricultural land of special landscape value and on flood plains. Elsewhere, across the whole district, numerous housing estates on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been recommended by officers and approved by Council. Officers’ reasons for recommendation have routinely been the lack of a 5 or 6 year housing supply in the context of No Local Plan. As a result, we fear that the baleful influence of the NPPF will continue to encourage further destruction of the East Devon countryside.
The Localism Bill of 2011 has clearly not worked in East Devon, having failed to “give members of the public enough influence over decisions that make a big difference to their lives”. What happened to the promise that “local communities should have genuine opportunities to influence the future of the places where they live”(Localism Bill 2011)?
C. Comments on the Cambridge Report
1. Our members felt the Cambridge Report was biased towards planners and developers, with little or no account taken of the views of local communities and tax-payers who are not regarded as stakeholders. Localism is not working and Government Policy is dictating to Local Government.
2.The report is based on a presumption in favour of building and encourages Chief Executives, planning officers and elected members to be “pro-development” and therefore disregard material considerations such as the preservation of the green environment. The green environment includes flood plains, AONBs, high-grade agricultural land – and objections on these grounds are seen by the report merely as a “source of delay”.
3. Since, like many other umbrella organisations, we represent the views of and are concerned about the whole district and its future, we should not be labelled nimbys. We are in favour of appropriate development especially of genuinely affordable, low-cost housing and wish expenditure on infrastructure to be prioritised in favour of building on brownfield and windfall sites. We also maintain that the countryside has a value that is not properly recognised in the NPPF.
D. What we want the Government to do
recognise that the NPPF is flawed, biased in favour of developers and causing widespread resentment among local communities
recognise that the term “sustainable development” is highly ambiguous and can and has been used to support inappropriatedevelopment. Much greater weight should be given to the conservation of our heritage, ecology, carbon footprint and transport.
give much stronger protection to green areas of special value to local areas
give priority to developments on brownfield sites, offering incentives and bringing in legislation to enforce this
allow planning permissions for developments to be counted as part of the 5-year supply
recognise that housing numbers are “guesstimates”, not proven fact
recognise that in many areas localism is not working, local communities being denied a voice
recognise that the right-to-buy scheme and NPPF’s encouragement of building-for-building’s sake are contributing to a housing bubble

East Devon Alliance’s Submission to the Communities and Local Government Inquiry into the Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework | East Devon Alliance

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