National Planning Policy Framework

“Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, has today published the draft National Planning Policy Framework, simplifying the sprawling volumes of Whitehall planning guidance. 

England’s national planning policy is now over 1,000 pages long, on top of volumes of Regional Strategies created under the last Government and in addition to councils’ own Local Plans. Planning has become lost in translation – the sheer complexity of planning rules makes it inaccessible for both local firms and local residents. 

The Coalition Government is committed to decentralising power to local people and making the planning process more accessible. We are already abolishing Labour’s unpopular Regional Strategies via the Localism Bill, protecting the Green Belt from top-down removal in 30 towns and cities across England.

The next stage of reform is to condense down the 1,000 pages of confusing and contradictory guidance to a succinct 52 page policy document, called the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Coalition is committed to protecting our natural and historic environment. This new document safeguards valued, national protection such as Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as well as ensuring measures which protect wildlife, biodiversity, cultural heritage and which tackle light pollution. It also proposes a new designation to protect local green spaces in need of special protection, which I believe will be welcomed in our area.

Indeed, the Framework explicitly attaches great importance to Green Belts in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment and checking the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas. It also directly states that local plans should minimise adverse effects on the local or natural environment.

These practical changes are part of a series of broader reforms to drive sustainable development, to promote local economic growth and protect the environment. Local firms and local communities are currently hindered by a planning system that can be slow, costly and gives them no certainty. Yet development will not be allowed if it is clearly in conflict with the environmental and other safeguards in the Framework. 

Local communities will be in the driving seat by being able to shape the shape of their local communities, supported by the innovation of neighbourhood planning – increasing the involvement of local residents across our local area.”

The public consultation opens until the 17th October 2011 - to download the consultation document click here