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New ‘planning rulebook’ heavily criticised by CPRE

24 July 2018

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has labelled the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) a ‘speculative developers’ charter’, as the government published its new planning rulebook earlier today (24 July).

Despite a promise to ‘build attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed’, CPRE points out that far from fulfilling this promise, the NPPF will continue to favour the delivery of any development, rather than development that meets communities’ needs, respects the environment, and adheres to policies in the NPPF other than those which deal with housing delivery.

CPRE’s key concern is the new ‘housing delivery test’. The NPPF continues to encourage councils to set high targets for housing delivery and this new policy has been produced to enforce this delivery. However, the ‘housing delivery test’ will penalise councils when house builders fail to deliver homes in their areas by removing local control over planning decisions. This in turn will leave them and the countryside open to speculative development.

CPRE have a number of other concerns, including:

  • a failure to provide an effective brownfield first policy
  • the continuing failure to support provision of affordable housing in rural areas
  • the discouragement of neighbourhood planning because of uncertainty over the validity of plans older than two years
  • continued implicit support for hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas, despite massive public opposition and little evidence of need

Matt Thomson, Head of Planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘Rather than delivering “what communities want” as it claims to promise, the new planning rulebook and its new “housing delivery test” will result in almost all local plans becoming out of date within two years. It is a speculative developers’ charter and will lead to the death of the plan-led system.

‘Without a local plan, councils and communities have little control over the location and type of developments that take place. This results in the wrong developments in the wrong places - local communities’ needs are ignored and valued countryside destroyed for no good reason.’

Despite heavy criticism of the revised NPPF, CPRE are pleased to see that government has taken some positive actions. They include:

  • National Parks and AONBs reinstated as having the ‘highest status of protection’
  • maintaining Green Belt protections and an improved definition ‘exceptional circumstances’ for releasing land from Green Belts
  • improved clarity and focus for policies on making better use of land
  • clearer guidance for viability assessment and that price paid for land should never be a justification for viability revisions
  • excluding National Parks, AONBs and Green Belts from the Entry Level Exceptions Sites policy
  • ‘Social housing’ being reinstated in the definition of affordable housing.

UPDATE: Further detail on the revised NPPF

We have produced six briefings on the implications of the revised NPPF for future planning policy and practice to provide the CPRE Network with a broad understanding of the key issues.  You can download those briefings here:

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