The draft National Planning Policy Framework is a heroic attempt to condense and clarify a vast tangle of Government policy. But such a drastic reduction as this is bound to have gaps, errors and uncertainties; so says POS.
Here are just a few concerns, taken from the Planning Officers Society's detailed critique of the Framework:
- the duty of authorities to cooperate on strategic matters needs further strengthening, if joint working at a local level is to be an effective replacement for the loss of the strategic tier of planning. The Society will be coming forward with detailed proposals;
- the Government's mixed message, about localism versus centrally-driven policy objectives, is perpetuated in this document, with little or no acknowledgement of the importance of localism as an element of national planning policy;
- the new regime is based on a definition of "sustainability" that seems very strongly biased towards economic considerations. We fear the question "what is sustainable?" could become a major debating point and an obstacle to progress. We propose an approach that uses localism to reduce uncertainty on the matter;
- We foresee a range of difficulties for individual authorities in setting housing figures that: win the support of local communities while also complying with Government policy; deal satisfactorily with the question of migration and respond to the Framework's expectations for affordable housing delivery;
- Existing Green Belt policy is restated with only detailed changes. This represents a lost opportunity to revisit and refresh this sixty-year old policy in the light of the changed world in which it now operates;
- One Government hope for the "presumption in favour" is that it will reduce the number of appeals; we fear the opposite could be the case. The last time such a presumption was in operation, appeals ran at record levels, about twice their current rate.
John Silvester, Society Publicity Officer & Spokesperson, said "the Society will be submitting its detailed response to the Framework consultation in September, although a draft is available for POS Members in our Members-only library on the website."
Any POS member wishing to comment on the Society's draft response should contact Stuart Hylton.
Go to the POS Members-only Library