In the brave new world of localism and the National Planning Framework (NPPF), the planning world in England has been left with a lack of direction as thousands of pages of planning guidance have been swept away.
The coalition government has made it clear that there is a role for specialist groups to step in and provide alternative guidance for planners. The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) along with The Wildlife Trusts have done just that, taking the lead in writing this new guide ‘Good Practice Guidance for Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity’ whilst coordinating the views of over 60 organisations and individuals. The result of their hard work is a very user-friendly guide to how planning can enhance and protect our natural environment within the current policy and legislative context. There is also a very helpful annexe providing model policies. Download your free copy here.
The Trust has been involved in the production of the document from the outset providing data on woodland creation and ancient woodland in the UK amongst other information. We firmly believe in promoting a multi-functional approach to green infrastructure, to ensure that its benefits are maximised for both people and biodiversity. This new Guide does just that and also clearly sets out our Woodland Access Standard (WASt) along with Natural England’s Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt). We also welcome, of course, the recognition of the importance of ancient woodland and of restoring and creating new habitats.
The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and George Hollingbery MP, Communities and Local Government Committee Member kindly hosted a parliamentary launch of the guide yesterday.
The guide has been welcomed by the environmental sector but now our task is to disseminate it as widely as possible. A copy is being sent to every planning authority in the country and please pass it on to any contacts you may have – it is vital that we all use this document as much as possible! We hope the guidance will be used by consultants to inform their applications as well as in policy and decision making. The government has not confirmed the status of the guidance (it is not a statutory document as it is not produced by the government). But it does constitute a material planning consideration due to the sheer number of organisations that have signed on to it – the more it is used the more weight it will be given.
Victoria Bankes Price, Planning Adviser