We have recently submitted comments on the draft amendments to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This is the national policy document that guides local authorities in the preparation of their local plans and in making decisions on planning applications.
The amendments proposed are to update the policies in the NPPF so that they accord with other consultations undertaken by the Government. Amendments include changes in the way that housing need is calculated, how local Councils are expected to monitor progress on housing and how Council’s should address pressure for development in the Green Belt.
Some of the main points in the our consultation response were as follows –
- Amendments to the presumption in favour of sustainable development will give additional strength to the protection of AONBs and Green Belt.
- The whole premise of the Housing Delivery Test is flawed, in that it involves sanctions against LPAs for something that is not wholly within their power to control.
- We object to a new policy on exception sites for entry level homes in the Green Belt, which seems to allow for additional market housing to be slipped in.
- Communications equipment such as masts and overhead cables have the potential to cause significant harm to landscapes, and this is particularly important in protected areas.
- We support the principle of minimum density standards for city and town centres as this will help to reduce the pressure for development on the open countryside.
- We do not support the removal of land from the Green Belt to allow development, and consider that housing numbers should be capable of being adjusted downwards where the only option to meet those numbers is to encroach on Green Belt
- We welcome the more detailed test to be applied to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for removing land from the Green Belt.
- Where no alternative can be found to Green Belt development (including in neighbouring districts) and exceptional circumstances exist, local authorities should be required wherever possible to create new areas of Green Belt with boundaries that can be defended in the long term.
- We are disappointed that the reference to AONBs having the highest status of protection has been removed, there is no protection in relation to the setting of AONBs, and there are no policies for addressing cumulative impacts on AONBs and their settings.
Our full response can be read here.