Dramatic simplification of planning guidance to encourage sustainable growth
- Published on Monday, 25 July 2011 12:39
- Posted by Scott Buckler
A new, simpler framework for the planning system that safeguards the environment while meeting the need for sustainable growth has been published for consultation today by Planning Minister Greg Clark (July 25th)
National planning policy, which is the basis for every local plan and decision, has accumulated to over one thousand pages during the last decade. Its volume and complexity have made planning increasingly inaccessible to all but specialists.
The Government in the Coalition Agreement committed to turning this thicket of national planning policy into a clear, tightly focused document, setting out national priorities and rules.
Today Ministers are inviting views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework - which streamlines national policy from over 1,000 pages to just 52 pages of policy - as part of a consultation to get the planning system right for current and future generations. The draft Framework draws on responses to an initial call for evidence earlier in the year. The Government intends to consult on simplifying other guidance on national policy as the next step.
Underpinning the draft Framework are powerful protections for communities to safeguard the natural and historic environment. It maintains the Government's commitment to protecting the green belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; facilitates a new generation of renewable energy projects; paves the way for green transport of the future - the electric car - by encouraging decision makers to provide charging points; re-affirms protections for our nation's historic and cultural heritage, and for our wildlife and bio-diversity, including new protection for peat bogs; and helps tackle the light pollution affecting the beauty of the night sky.
In addition, the draft Framework delivers on the Government's commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper to allow communities to earmark important local green spaces for special protection - whether its value is in its natural beauty, its historical resonances, its recreational value, its tranquillity or its richness in wildlife.
The draft Framework also underlines the need for councils to work closely with communities and businesses and actively seek opportunities for sustainable growth to rebuild the economy; helping to deliver the homes, jobs, and infrastructure needed for a growing population whilst protecting the environment. A presumption in favour of sustainable development means that proposals should be approved promptly unless they would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in the draft Framework.
Greg Clark said:
"Clarity in planning has become lost in translation. National planning policy and central government guidance has become so bloated that it now contains more words than the complete works of Shakespeare, making it impenetrable to ordinary people.
"We need a simpler, swifter system that is easier to understand and where you don't need to pay for a lawyer to navigate your way around. That's why we promised reform to make planning easier to understand and easier to use for everyone.
"Today's proposals set out national planning policy more concisely, and in doing so make clearer the importance of planning to safeguarding our extraordinary environment and meeting the needs of communities, now and in the future.
"We now want to hear the thoughts of councils, communities and businesses on the draft Framework and work together to get the planning system right for generations to come."
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
"Our Natural Environment White Paper set out how we will not only continue to protect our countryside and green spaces, but improve them. This new planning framework will help make this a reality. It will give local communities the power to protect green spaces that mean so much to them, while still giving the highest protection to our treasured landscapes such as national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It will also ensure that development needed to grow the economy is carried out in a sustainable way."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"Strong, sustainable growth is the Government's top priority. The new proposals published today, a key element of the plan for growth, set out plans that are responsive to business whilst protecting the concerns of communities and their environment.
"Along with the powerful presumption for sustainable development, the new approach to planning will be a significant step forward in creating the right conditions for businesses to start up, invest, grow and create jobs."