Friday 28th October 2016                 Change text size:

Reforms to the planning system by David Cameron are ‘confusing’

Reforms to the planning system by David Cameron are ‘confusing’

The Government is trying to change property planning laws but are facing opposition from people who say there is enough brownfield land to sustain six years worth of housing, and that the new planning policy framework is “contradictory and confusing”. Charlotte Reid has been finding out more.

The Government is trying to change planning policy to make the system clearer and more consistent. At the moment, the UK planning policy is over 1,000 pages long and the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is set to replace this.

The new policy includes the phrase, “presumption in favour of sustainable development“, which critics have said is vague.

The Environmental Audit Committee has written to the Prime Minister to express concerns over the Government’s new NPPF and the wording of it.

Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP, says, “As it stands the new planning policy framework appears contradictory and confusing“.

The committee is asking for a clearer definition of ‘sustainable development‘ because as the planning framework currently stands, it “presents different messages to different audiences about what the presumption in favour of sustainable development actually means“.

Another concern that the MPs have highlighted is that the NPPF plans to scrap the 60% development target on brownfield sites.

According to new research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), areas of brownfield land, abandoned or underused industrial sites that are available to be reused, are growing faster than they are being used, with enough space for 1.5 million new homes.

The report, called Building in a Small Island, found out that in England between 2001 and 2009, for every five sustainable housing plots that became available, only three homes were built.

Neil Sinden, director of policy and campaigns for CPRE says, “The idea that we are running out of brownfield land is a myth.

“Developing new housing on appropriate brownfield land first is the most environmentally, socially and economically sustainable option.

“It should be a central strand of the Government’s final National Planning Policy Framework.

“Land is a finite resource, particularly on this small, crowded island of ours, and we should recycle it whenever possible.”

Ministers have argued that the new policy will be protecting sites currently classified as ‘brownfield land’ because of its value for wildlife and old buildings. The CPRE says ‘brownfield’ needs a better definition in the NPPF.

Sinden concludes, “Our research shows that there is plenty of brownfield land available and national planning policy should promote its use as part of a sustainable approach to development.

“We should continue to regenerate our urban areas, particularly […] encouraging the provision of much needed affordable housing.”

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