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CPRE reaction to review of planning rules

5 March 2018

CPRE has given a cautious welcome to some of the measures in today’s long-awaited review of planning rules

But it warns that the failure to guarantee that land is used sustainably for housing and in a way that genuinely meets communities’ need threatens to undermine the government’s aims in addressing the housing crisis.

It fears the government’s simplistic reliance on increasing the numbers of houses according to market demand will do little to address the lack of affordable housing that’s fuelling the housing crisis and end up destroying precious countryside unnecessarily.

CPRE wants to see a revised NPPF that gives stronger direction on where development goes and make the best use of land; ensure that what is built meets communities’ needs; and redress the imbalance of power between communities and councils on one hand and developers on the other.

However, this revised NPPF is built on the belief that the affordability crisis will be solved by centrally imposing high housing targets on councils in areas of high demand, and that the affordability crisis can be tackled by granting more planning permissions in the hope that developers will build more.

There is a risk that the government is setting up councils that fail to deliver on such targets as simply anti-development, warned CPRE director of campaigns and policy Tom Fyans:

'The government risks unfairly demonising them for rightly opposing inappropriate developments in their areas that not only fail to meet communities’ needs, but actually cause harm to their wellbeing and quality of life.'

'Simply throwing the book at councils for standing up against inappropriate development is not the way we’re going to create the housing we need and uphold protections for precious countryside. Communities that want to see new developments that are well designed and meet local needs will feel vulnerable to having their wishes over-ruled by central government.'

However, the review has some positive steps to accelerating the build-out rate and reassures that Green Belt protection will be maintained. AONBs and National Parks could benefit from better protections, especially against ‘major’ development proposals.

‘We welcome the much stronger emphasis on developer accountability,’ said Tom Fyans. ‘Measures to tackle slow build-outs rates and stop developers undercutting affordable housing requirements through the viability loophole are important steps in guaranteeing that communities get what they need.

‘It is also encouraging to hear the government reiterate its commitment to protecting the countryside, specifically Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty protections. A stronger promotion of prioritising brownfield land and increasing density is to be welcomed and reflects CPRE’s long campaigning on these issues. But the proof will be in the implementation and whether people’s aspiration, expressed through local plans, are fulfilled in real life.’

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