The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Select Committee launched an Inquiry into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) last Friday. The Committee, chaired by Clive Betts MP aims to scrutinise the operation of the NPPF on three key areas:
- Planning for housing;
- Town centres; and
- Planning for energy infrastructure (excluding energy infrastructure covered by National Policy Statements).
Central to the Committee’s investigations will be consideration of a review published by the Centre for Housing and Planning Research at Cambridge University. This newly published research commissioned by the Committee sets out that many Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are focussing too much on Government-set targets, rather than delivery on the ground. For example, applications are being refused and resubmitted just to fit in better with LPA deadlines. For those of us that have worked in planning for a while this is nothing new, it is a practice that has gone on for years but it does seem to be a wake-up call for the Committee.
We hope that this research will be taken as a need to focus on the quality of outcomes rather than just sheer quantity. Development Control (processing planning applications) should not just be about officers ploughing through paperwork and ticking the boxes. We want planning officers to be able to work positively with applicants to create better places. It should be about producing quality sustainable places where people really want to live, work and play.
Central to this, the Woodland Trust will be submitting evidence on how woods and trees can contribute positively to our day to day life. We will also be continuing our fight to improve the NPPF’s protection of ancient woodland by pushing for the tightening of the loophole.
If you would like to submit evidence to the inquiry please see the Inquiry page. The deadline is 5pm 8th May 2014.
Victoria Bankes Price, Planning Adviser